Why I write about Saab in the way that I do

Earlier this week I interviewed Mikael Östlund from NEVS/Saab and I posted the text from that interview on this website. As has been my tradition since time immemorial, I also posted an accompanying piece with my thoughts on the substance of that interview.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve copped a fair hosing for those pieces, mostly on Saabs United. That’s OK. People will, and can, have their opinions and I’m pretty content with the state of my relationships in the world.

What I’d like to do now is give you some background on WHY I do things the way that I do, so you can perhaps understand what makes me tick.

A few small matters, first.

  • This is my personal site. It’s not a community site. I don’t care if the readership is big or small because I have no advertising base to satisfy any more, no other vested interests or objectives (other than those implied ones I’ll mention shortly). This site was set up simply because I enjoy writing and didn’t want to give that up once the Saab job fell through. The process itself is cathartic for me and it’s nice to keep in touch and share thoughts with many of the people I’ve met over the years.
  • I spent from 2005 to late 2011 writing 99% of my stuff about Saab, but at my core I’m a car guy and have been since my Dad gave me a book about Jaguars when I was 11 or 12 years old. Whilst Saab has been the biggest brand in my life, I have always had vehicular interests outside Saab and as a car guy, I’ve always had an interest in exploring those. I do that here. When I write about cars here, it’ll be cars that I’m interested in from whatever brand is crossing my desk. Right now, that’s mostly Saab, Alfa and RenaultSport with a few smatterings of other car industry stuff.
  • Having said that, I can’t divorce myself from my past and Saab news is of continuing personal and public interest, both for me and many of my friends. The reasons have been covered many times here – my own past with the company, my friends in the region, and my friends in the Saab community. This is NOT a Saab website but I’ll cover occasional bits of Saab news with interest.

That last point leads nicely in the reason for this post – why I write about Saab in the way that I do.

My first concern has always been the reader. Yes, I always wanted to support the company and I was an unashamed enthusiast during my TS/SU days. But the first priority was always getting the right information to the reader.

All readers were/are a priority, but there’s a particular core of readers that I continue to use as a measuring stick in everything I do in writing, particularly about Saab. This small group are people I’ve had dinners with, spent time and shared good experiences with. If they were in town, I’d open a room at my home to any of these people in an instant. Some are friends, some are former colleagues. They are people who have personally supported me in various ways over a number of years, people who I’ve gone to for some wisdom when times were either very confusing or very pressured. These people were my personal circuit breakers in the tough times, my motivation in good times (including now) and my friends all the time.

One particular thing about this group of people is that they are all Saab fans and supporters. They’ve bought one or more Saabs (sometimes many more) over a long period of time and they’re all people who still share a long-term interest in what’s going on in Trollhattan. There’s a reasonable chance that they’re still interested in Saab’s new products under NEVS even though those products are so fundamentally different than Saab’s historical products because of the electric powertrain.

My challenge – the standard that I set for myself – is that I have to continue to look these friends in the eye and be comfortable in my own skin knowing that when I wrote something about Saab, I wrote it with the best of my knowledge and with complete honesty and integrity. These are people I hold the utmost respect for as friends and I need to feel that I’ve done everything I can in covering this stuff to earn their respect back.

These people are smart enough to do their own homework and form their own opinions. But as so far as they read about Saab and might come here to do some of that reading from time to time, what they read will be the best possible material that I can provide. It’ll be as honest and as objective as I can make it from my own viewpoint in the world. I’m not a reporter on the beat with complete detachment from the matters that I choose to cover. My opinions will be my own, but the material that I present will be as researched as I can reasonably make it as a hobbyist. It will be measured and weighed with my own experience as a writer, as a former employee and remaining mindful of all that I’ve learned about this industry from the many senior people at Saab that I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with, particularly over the last three years.

I won’t always be right and I hope I’ll always heed good counsel when it comes my way. I won’t always be pleasant or fun to read but I hope I will be interesting more often than not. But I WILL always be writing with one of these guys sitting on my shoulder and I’ll always be measured and honest in what I think and say.

When it comes to Saab, I do honestly want them to succeed. I don’t know if their future products will suit my tastes and my inclination is to think that they won’t, but that doesn’t mean I’m negative towards them due to bias.

Their advanced battery technology is exciting and I’m looking forward to see what they come up with in terms of a completed vehicle. I’m very pleased they’re heading down the premium path as it’s the only road to success for a small company. I also think it’s the best route to make a vehicle that traditional Saab fans will look at with genuine interest. The finer points that made a Saab were not generic.

If I’m skeptical or cover certain issues with a critical eye, it’s only because the knowledge that we have so far contains some holes in the logic and I want to try and understand those holes. I’m not going to be a hard-ass but I’m not going to give NEVS a free pass, either. My questions about them are reasonable. I asked Mikael follow-up questions and pressed him on questions that he gave shorter answers to because I WANT to understand what they’re doing, not because I wanted to be a jerk.

If I don’t do that then I can’t continue to look those people who are important to me as friends in the eye and say that I covered that story the best I could, with the best knowledge and the most honest opinion that I could write.

That’s my standard. On the occasions that I cover Saab stories around here, that’s what I adhere to. Hopefully it serves not only that core of key people, but everyone else who visits here as well.

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  1. Much appreciated outline. I too hope NEVS do well with Saab, and am very interested in what they are trying to do. Please keep up the good work!

  2. I like the way you write swade. It´s honest, sincere, open minded, and it shows in what you transmit in the lines written.
    That´s the best way to comunicate: being genuine!
    And i saw that since TS/SU and see now here in “swadeology land”
    You write as an saab fan, an worried fan, an hoping fan….
    And that´s how 90% of Saab fans feel… The only diference is that you show it…

    Keep up the good work… I like the way you write… a lot!
    Feels like having a nice chat with an aussie friend!

    P.S. – As an “car guy” as you mention… why don´t you keep track with the V8Supercar Championship? 😉 ( j/k… j/k… )

  3. Swade, this is why I follow your blog—you are objective and you keep me informed—period!! In the end that is what matters most.

    You never need to justify to me and I’m of the opinion that you should not allow others to “drag” you into their limited and narrow minded way of thinking.

  4. I, too, enjoy reading your writing very much. I can’t believe that you haven’t been picked up by another company to write for. My only beef with your new site is that for some reason my employer has blocked it as being “inappropriate.” Not sure what that’s all about. Started being blocked about a week ago. Carry on though, reading your thoughtful writing is also a cathartic experience for many of us as well. I just wish it was for Inside Saab. 🙁

  5. Don’t let the thinly veiled criticism from some of those muppets at SU affect you in any way. Just because they have largely banished free thinking and intelligent writing on their site doesn’t mean you have to : )

    I will continue to pop back here from time to time to read your thoughts. I hope all is well with you personally.

    1. G’day Joe,

      SU still involves friends of mine and I’ve said publicly and privately that the site did their job under much more difficult circumstances in 2011 than I did in 2009/10. It would have been tough and kudos to them for keeping on going. They do some good things, like the gatherings and the museum car purchase.

      That said, we do have our differences of opinion and personality clashes, it seems. I’m sleeping OK about how I work and how I handle that.

      Good to hear from you. I hope life in the Blue Turret is peachy. You’re one of those guys looking over my shoulder, you know 🙂

    2. Correct you are Joe.

      I have had my issues with the thin skins at SU. The “threats” to ban me from their site…no need for that…left gladly…”threats” to censor things THEY deemed inappropriate from me and other long time posters, meaning things THEY did not either agree with, or want to hear. Like criticism of SAAB, them, or my just plain telling the truth when one of them was completely wrong on a subject.

      And they still continue to believe that the SAAB we once knew will return…it won’t…period.

      Steven has brought his great writing style to his own site now, and this is where I believe that the REAL information on the fate of SAAB can be found.

      Thanks, Steven for all you do.

  6. I think if NEVS can afford to buy a factory, ship cars to China, and exist on a battery first roadmap, they can take a little skepticism.

    It seemed a fair interview and your thoughts afterwards were quite honest. You’ve been involved with Saab during the disengagement with GM, so I think you’ve probably got a good handle how tricky it is to set up a car design from scratch. Moreover, this isn’t a news factual web site, its a place people visit to get your opinion, whether its about NECS, Alfas, or the poor state of Australian Football (can’t be as bad as soon in the US, trust me), as we like the way you write.

    What I think is missing is NEVS said they had been approached in China for increased demand for the existing 93 platform. Well, there’s only a couple of candidates when you think about it who that could be. A newspaper journalist should have the resources to figure out and confirm who they are.

    Secondly, preparing and asking questions to suppliers of, if we did this, could you do that? And how much would it cost? Makes perfect sense if you’re trying to be nimble and hit a moving target. That’s one lesson everyone has to pick up on today (particularly in publishing, the business I work in). It doesn’t however suggest that such plans will go ahead.

    Finally, I’m surprised some of our associates at SU made such a big stink out of this. I think its a combination of stress and exhaustion, particularly in Europe at the moment where there is a push for these daft austerity measures. I’m sure once they relax a bit, they will have new vigor and enjoyment in covering NEVS and Saab again.

    As a side note, its amazing that its taken until this week for the EU to wake up to the fact its about to lose most of its auto manufacturing business and consider doing something about it. Ironically, if it had been a year earlier Saab still might have survived. …

  7. Swade,
    Your outlook and your writing always sits well with me. It is apparent that what you write has been given fair thought and due consideration. The result is something you can justifiably be proud of. Long may it continue.

  8. Heck, they can always stop logging on to your URL.

    Me, I check it first up every night and it has pride of place on my Bookmarks list.

  9. Anyone who knows you, know that your integrity and search for the truth is impeccable. Just ignore the rest!

    Keep on truckin’/Thomas

  10. Really no need to explain anything. This is your site and SU is someone else’s site. I went to SU late last night and read about all the fuss. They are free to have an opinion, but the way they express it is for me (again) too murky and speculative. I basically stopped visiting the site daily about a year ago since the “reporting” were just too Bagdad-Bob for me. This summer it were gone from my RSS as well. They are probably doing a fin job community-wise with meetings, the museum, etc., but for the rest it seems to be just a mess. Anyone who had a different opinion on NEVS this summer were immediately jumped upon by the crew – even people who wrote fair, balanced, and to-the-point comments about it. There were relevant articles in Swedish media about the sale, NEVS, etc, and they just ignored it because according to them everything in the media were false information that people should not care about. At the same time the continued to churn out posts about NEVS that did nothing else than praise them and the fact that Saab now were saved. They claimed to have no inside information from NEVS about anything, but at the same time they seemed desperate to have their posts convey the direct opposite. What I think made TS (and later on SU) so prominent were the fact that Swade always separated facts from opinion. Despite being a huge Saab fan, Swade delivered the most objective news back in the day. You could always argue with his opinions, but could do nothing else but respect him for the fairness in reporting the news and the facts. SU today just seems to mix everything into a confused cocktail, and if somebody tries to put forward arguments they are immediately labeled as anti-Saab/NEVS/Trollhättan/SU… My guess is that SU will fade into irrelevance within 1-2 years, and then just be Yet Another discussion forum with endless arguments and flame wars.

    1. Don’t think SU will become a war zone. It’s the mixed messages from NEVS that’s screwing with peoples heads at the moment.
      It would be nice to know what they are really going to do with the brand?!
      I personally fear too much Govt involvement from two different continents and all kind of forced agendas will be getting too much in the way of building Saab-Saabs even with deep pockets and a bunch of Swedish engineers let loose.
      Time will tell, but the longer it takes the more enthusiasts will throw in the towel and leave for good.
      Just like in the early 90’s.

    2. Wow! Ctm you nailed it!!!! I, too, stopped frequenting SU for the very same reason.

      Some of the writers, not all, at SU turned what Swade masterfully created into a “war zone” long before NEVS surfaced.

      1. Allan, I always thought it was fairly peaceful between people down there considering everything that has happened over past few years.
        Just have a look at some other car brand forums starting with A or B for example and SU feels like la la land even now.

        My spouse sometimes say arguing is just a sign of true affection…
        Yes I hate it too 🙂

        1. Touche’. I just hate to see “SAAB enthusiasts” getting bashed and then banned for simply offering an objective opinion.

  11. I have followed your writing since the TS days and find it interesting, refreshing, sometimes disagreeable but always fair.

    SU is not the same as it was when you ran it which is fine. They do some good work and have some interesting articles but I have felt for some time that it is no longer a site I wish to invest any time in. This blog is a site I like to invest time in and I will continue to do so.

    More power to you Swade. Keep up the good work.

    Cuore Sportivo!

  12. Swade

    Your sites over the years, through TS to SU and now here have been an inspiration and a vital source of calm, collected and rational discussion on all things SAAB. Through good and bad times you’ve always been the prime source of sensible information to those who care.

    Just keep on doing what you do best, which is what you’ve done all along.

    Best to you and yours as always


  13. You know my thoughts, no need to further spell them out here. Just thought I’d publicly join the choir singing your praises here, since it’s nothing less than justified.

  14. Swade, please continue to (at least sometimes) write about Saab the way you do. It appears that Tim from SU will take a time off, and thus, an important source with inside contacts may just turn mute. The other writers from SU are good as well, but they do not live in Trollhättan, and probably do not have so many contacts there.

  15. I read both SU and your blog and frankly cannot see why its so hard for people just to agree to differ, we all have are own veiws and I find it interesting to hear other peoples.personally I hope NEVs can bring SAAB back and hopefull the UK I hope that whatever schism has happened here can be healed.

    1. I agree, too. The notion that people can think independently and make up their own mind is one without being criticised for it is one that I’m very much in favour of.

  16. So, why do I read your blog? Why don’t I visit those other sites? I came for the content and stayed for the writer.

    Across the pond, my 3rd Saab is the ‘mysterious’ 97-X – I say that because even fellow Saab owners I meet haven’t heard of it. I bought it pre-GM breakup at fire sale pricing and love it. So much that we’re exhaustively researching horse trailers that can be towed by it rather than a trade for a powerful pickup. As things collapsed I searched frantically for information, what comes next, warranty status, will there be a 4th Saab in my future? Even the fantastic dealer I’d worked with for 20 years didn’t know, every visit to them saw longer faces and more hair pulling. Their main dealership eventually absorbed the techs and a few key employees, and used the lot to store overflow GM trucks.

    And all I could find were the same ambiguous ‘something is happening’ news articles referenced here many times, until yet another web search turned up Swade. NEWS! Not just what ‘might’ be happening, why it might, why it might not, from someone who obviously loved Saabs yet defined what were his opinions and what was researched and confirmed. I still look forward to Saab news, I’m one of those (probably more rare) that could be in the market for NEVS planned primo Saabs if they ever make it to the U.S., and I know I’ll read here first if and when it becomes worth pursuing.

    I’m not a car guy, I’m a manic mechanic known for standing on a Jeep bumper in the middle of winter covered in oil because I was adjusting rocker arms and forgot to replace the carb spring before turning on the engine (440 at full throttle – valve cover = 4 quart oil shower). Yet I enjoy the adventures, insights, and tidbits about these ‘uninteresting’ things made interesting. So, perhaps I’m uneducated, blissfully so because I can enjoy and appreciate both how and what things are written here. It’s much more pertinent and engaging than I found on those other sites (to me). Cheers, and thank you!

  17. Swade, I started reading SU because of your rational, honest and entertaining style. I read InsideSaab for the same reasons. SU is OK, but not a site I bother with much now as the writing is not as compelling as in your time at the helm.

    Keep up the good work here, you are an excellent writer and well worth the time spent to read your views.

  18. I read both SaabsUnited and Swadeology and I really don’t understand:
    A) ctm and Allans view above. I see no “war zone. I see enthusiast “enthusing”. (Is that a word?)
    B) How you and Tim ended up on either side of a fence, a fence I don’t even see.

    I support Saab. Always have. And I will keep checking every news on Saab, and that includes SU and you, Swade.

    That said, I also have a soft spot for other cars, Alfa-Romeo and Mercedes for instance. And Aston Martin….. 🙂

    1. Hi Hans
      I totally share you comment. I enjoy reading Swade as much as I gather news from SU. I really do not see the problem or conflict.
      It is a matter of opinions, and I respect everyone’s opinions. For example as much as I enjoyed reading Swade’s pieces, I do not agree that SAAB is dead. In fact I think SAAB has evolved, and it would have had to do so anyhow to stay afloat. The bankruptcy possibly dramatised and accelerated the mutation.
      The same Ostlund makes reference to Bergstrom bringing back some old engineers and using companies like LeanNova that managed to “pool” some SAAB know-how. Because that is the valuable know-how that need to be preserved and given continuation.
      I see the Japan/China reference more about the EV power-train aspect, and realistically if you want to be innovative, you need to get the best technology wherever it is available. It happens to be China/Japan, so be it!
      Would I have bought a SAAB hybrid? Yes for sure! A NEVS EV? Possibly not given my own driving pattern! So what? I shall buy a SAAB when it will suit me and this new SAAB will attract new customers …..
      Having said that I still enjoy reading and respect Swade’s opinionm, with no conflict!

    2. +1

      Hans, I don’t understand the storm, either. I’ll keep on checking both sites, like I always did. All that matters is the car stuff.

      Swade, cheers!

  19. Good post , Steven, I can’t get inside people’s heads, but I can’t help wonder if some of the fuss at SU is because all of us Saab fans around the world are craving news about NEVS (and perhaps still getting over our frustration with how the whole bankruptcy process and sale of assets was mis-handled)…but for the people in and around Trollhatten, this is not a hobby. It is their lives, their economy and their future….either personally or for their friends and family. That adds an extra measure of excitement over anything that offers even a glimmer of hope.

    I too an interested in what NEVS does because it is the only future that has any connection to Saab at all. But, like you, I am not sure if what NEVS produces will be a car in which I am interested. I guess for my part, I am still mourning that I will not be able to be a Jason Castriotta designed 9-3 replacement…but that is water under the bridge.

    I do not view SU articles and your articles as a competition. I read and enjoy both (except for some of the comments). Keep up the good work, mate!

  20. Great job, Mr. Wade. I really look forward to reading your ramblings, and I think it is very powerful how you always state you position so well. Kudos to you my friend, and sleep well knowing that you do an excellent job of delivering interesting information.
    On another note, have you picked wheels for the great american adventure yet? I just bought a 1964 F100 4wd that would be a great American way to experience the backroads of the west…….

  21. Blogs need frequent new content. Since Saab is no more, it becomes difficult to write about things. I followed Steven from TS to SU to Inside Saab to here. It’s often all about the writer and person, not about the place.

    I stopped following and reading SU a while ago. It seems it turned too much into a commercial site with advertising, selling merchandise, and promoting sponsors. If you don’t agree with their ‘opinion’ of everything “Saab and NEVS is wonderful”, you get shot down by the crew and others. It’s just not the same anymore.

    I think the power of Swade’s writing is that it is critical, well researched and with a personal touch. But not too personal. And it is very good writing as well, enjoyable to read. Not every car/Saab enthusiast is a good writer, even when they mean well. I always found my opinion and thoughts about Saab pretty much inline with Swade. Actually, I think your writing has become even more objective here because of the lack of manufacturer and sponsor ties. It’s difficult to write something negative about company or product that directly sponsors your writing.

    Blogs, forums and other enthusiast sites change over the years. It’s all about the contributors, not the site itself. Keep up the good work!

    1. First, Frank , thank you for all your forum discussions.

      “Since Saab is no more” , but the other Saab, Saab Parts still exists and my 9-3’s just didn’t evaporate in my driveway. SU has a useful purpose including it’s “advertising, selling merchandise, and promoting sponsors”. Myself, I will need to see want NEVS does for Saab. In the mean time as long as my 9-3s run perfect I don’t need a new car. I might however Maptun.

      I hope NEVS keeps the spirit of Saab. Just a thought.

  22. I miss your contribution to Saabs United. I really think that Tim has made a very good thing out of the concept since you left. All the events, support to the museum and so forth are very good. I still miss some of your journalistic touch to the actual writing. I am perhaps always being naive but I wish you would go back to SU in cooperation with Tim. The best of two worlds combined.

    1. I appreciate your sentiments, Johan, and I agree 100% that they’ve done some wonderful things for the community in terms of events. Things I couldn’t have done being so isolated here in Tassie, but may not have done anyway as it’s not my thing. Tim’s very dedicated and hard working in those areas, he’s good at getting people moving to support them.

      But I won’t be working with SU. Aside from my lessened interest in Saab matters following the bankruptcy, Tim and I butt heads too often and it’s not a good environment for anyone. Some people just don’t mix and it’s my personality as much as it is his, but I just prefer my own way of working and running a website.

      1. I understand.
        But I do hope that you can comment there from time to time. Your insight are needed now and then.

      2. I really liked the concept you invetented – Saabs + Unted. I guess it’s harder to stand united since Saab is not the same company it used to be. But I can´t help but feel that there is a strike of bitterness in what you write today. I can´t blame you for it, you went all in with SWAN. I still believe that you are a very stong force within the Saab community and people listen to you. I hope NEVS does too. I still hope that the community may influence NEVS to do things that we think is good for the brand, if we focus our energy on pushing the right things.

        I feel more worried today than ever, when Tim is down on his knees and the comminity is splitting up. We need you man!

        1. Hi Johan,

          I appreciate the sentiments but please believe me, there’s no bitterness in anything I’ve written here. It’s a defense of my methods, but only because I’ve been attacked and wanted to set out clearly why I do things the way that I do. I sleep really well at night with the editorial policy I have on this website and the way I conduct myself. That’s what this post is about.

          If there’s some division going on, it’s not something I asked for or encourage. I have no interest in that happening. As I’ve written in this piece – this is not a Saab community website. SU *is* a Saab community website, a place for regular Saab news and coverage. I have no desire to change that.

          All I did was publish an interview. An objective interview and my personal reflections from it. The divisions that are happening now seem to be the result of SU’s critique of that interview. It’s not something that I initiated. It’s not something that I want.

      3. Swade,

        Sometimes it’s not about yourself but more about the other person. I was trying to point out some errors regarding a doom-like Volvo article but was continually ignored. I did not give up and in the end, I got a message from Tim stating: “Do you really want to pick a fight with me on my own website?” I only tried to get some facts corrected but he is a “besserwisser” at heart, someone who knows best and will not back off even if proven wrong.

        It really sets HIS standard and got me thinking about the contributing French/Belgian writer on SU which was publically humiliated after writing about a dealer closing which was in fact NOT closing. As a site owner, you can do many things: Have a personal chat with the person and tell him one of many things ranging from don’t do it again to goodbye. But Tim choose public humiliation and banned the writer from the SU team.

        Ass for the Volvo article? Well, rather than correcting his errors, he decided to delete it. I would not be wanting to be on a flight with him as the captain during a storm, a captain should listen to his co-captain in case he gets into trouble but I am not so sure Tim would…

  23. Keep up the good work, Swade! I enjoy your honest writing and thats why I keep coming back. I find it liberating when someone dares to say what they think or don’t understand. That’s how a good blog should be (if you ask me).

  24. Swade, I have always appreciated your writing. Hell, I think the main reason I bought my first Saab and more since then is because of your writings at SU. I consider you a excellent writer, a Saab faithful to the end and a decent person whom I am comfortable calling a friend.

    Now, where’s MY pizza dammit!


  25. I don’t really understand what all the commotion is about anyways. Just because we like the same brand and cars doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything? There are some Saab owners or enthusiasts I don’t really care about either. I am sure many Saab owners don’t care about my opinion and thoughts as well. With this internet thing, there are so many source for Saab news and opinions with blogs, forums and other sites. It would be pretty boring when everybody agrees on everything and there would be only one site that has it all for everybody.

    I thought Saab was all about individuality, being different and choosing a different way of doing things. Move your mind, find your own road and those kind of things. Everybody has an opinion but more important is to be open to others and not start a shouting match if someone disagree with yours. If you can’t take the heat when someone reacts to your blog or opinion, perhaps you should find another hobby.

  26. Hi, Swade,

    For me, the thing is very clear. You are behaving like a good journalist. You are passionate but you separate very clearly facts from opinion. And, when you interview someone, you are not praising, you are trying to gather information.

    In the case of Saabsunited 2.0, the site is not a source of information anymore. It is now more like a sect. Or you have faith in their way of seeing things, or you are banned. There is no place for doubts or criticism. Each day is less interesting for me because I cannot read other things appart from how good NEVS are.

    I don’t want to read blind faith articles, I do want to find news, either good or bad. Even if you are less interested in Saab nowadays, I know that I will find more information in one interview by you than in 1,000 articles from the last incarnation of Saabsunited. I feel sorry to see how they are digging the name of the site in the dirt. Shame of them.

    1. I do NOT recognize your description of SU as a sect.
      Some people are taking Saabs downfall quite hard and they might use a harsh language when arguing. I have seen some rather rude comments.
      And being rude will get you banned as some people may have been, but that hardly makes the site a sect.

      1. Hans: I like SU and I like the people running it. I especially like many who visit—the respectful debates we have and the fact that regardless of our position on NEVS—-it’s our love for Saab that has us divided sometimes. That said, I was banned from commenting on the site a period of time—-and I can assure you that I wasn’t vulgar, I didn’t bully anyone or say anything that belittled the administrators or guests there—-I was strongly opposed to the Receivers for selecting NEVS as the new owner of Saab. I was sarcastic and very strongly opinionated that I felt a bad mistake had been made. I questioned why NEVS was chosen and I still do. I might have been out of line in how I presented my arguments—-but certainly not to the extreme that I would have been banned from most websites on the internet. I read that I was suspended for posting too often—-and repeating the same basic talking points too often. I don’t think that was the real reason. I suspect it was that I clashed with the case being built that NEVS was going to take Saab in a good direction. What I was writing clashed with that narrative—-and yes, I was like a pit bull, not letting up. It annoyed them. But I don’t think being annoying should be a reason to be banned. That said—-it’s their site and they are free to make the decisions they feel are necessary to put their best product forward. I am back on their commenting again. I am trying to be more balanced and in fact, I have actually come around to the possibility that something good can happen with NEVS as the owner. I’m still very concerned about NEVS intentions. I want a broader product line than they first planned on and I want them to sell cars in the U.S.—–those are two non-negotiable “demands” from me as a Saab buyer.

        1. SU’s comment policy is largely based on the comments policy that I wrote while I owned the site. And yes, there was and remains a guideline there that people should make their point and not come back and repeat it again and again and again.

          When you’re moderating a site, especially a heavily trafficked site, people who are relentlessly argumentative become a real PITA and they put off other members of the community. Why should everyone else have to be put off by the insistence of one person to shout from the rooftops over and over? A point well made only needs to be made once. Responses to different facts of the conversation are OK, but simple repetitiveness – especially if it’s abrasive – just adds stress to the moderators. If you’re one of those people and you’re trying to monitor conversations AND receive/sort information AND craft it into a meaningful post, then it’s OK to draw the line somewhere.

          HOW you manage that part of the comment policy is important. I only had to ban five or six people (for that or other things) in six years of writing, but then I never had the same stressful environment that existed in 2011.

          1. Swade: I understand everything you’re saying. But note that in general, my “repetitiveness” on SU was because I was responding to other posters’ comments, which in and of themselves, were repeating the same things over and over (i.e. stay calm and carry on, NEVS is wonderful, NEVS is rich, NEVS is saving the planet, NEVS is the only hope, NEVS was the best choice, NEVS knows the future, etc.). I think that if you make a point once, on one thread—-it clearly isn’t being read by everyone who routinely visits the site. So a few days later, if you read another comment that might warrant the same type of response (not word for word—-but the same theme), my opinion was that it was okay to repeat an earlier assertion. But I didn’t take offense when I was prevented from posting there for a while. I understood their position and “served my time” and came back with a commitment to try to fit into their community in a way they approve of.

        2. Unfortunately, I somewhat recognize what Oscar and Angelo describes. This summer there were a lot of interest in NEVS, but very little facts and official information. SU looked at almost everything in a (very) positive way, extrapolating even the smallest bit of positive information way out of line while choosing to ignore not-so-positive news in media (that turned out to be true). When commenters wrote absolute tidy comments about this, pondering alternative theories, and looked at stuff some other way, they were met by SU retorts like “why do you hate Saab? or “why do you want NEVS to fail?” or “why do you spread negative information?”. Of course, with comment sections being the cesspit that if often can be on large sites, behavior like that acted like prime fertilizer and it went downhill from there.

          1. At times, I felt that some people were like robots—or if not robots, like they were in a cult/brainwashed. Is that too strong? Maybe, but as you describe, if there was the least bit of dissent, it was met with hostility, not reasoned discussion. THAT is a symptom of cult-like behavior. If a friend or relative is in a cult and you try to understand what they see in it—-if you’re the least bit skeptical, they are “programmed” to express anger/outrage and shun you. Sometimes, that’s how I felt when questioning the Receviers decision or NEVS business plan (or lack thereof). Very strange and in some ways, a bit scary.

      2. Just for clarification, in my previous comment I was referring to the editorial policy of SU, not to the comments. As ctm states, SU crew is not analysing NEVS, they are showing them as saviors, messiahs, this is why I have defined them as a sect. Not a trace of doubt, not a difficult question to the leaders. It gives me the impression that SU is the official PR agency of NEVS. And this is not good. Criticism, different points of view, journalism is. Perhaps I am wrong but I am seing a decline in the number of comments in the SU forum. And, for me, this is because the quality of their entries has lowered a lot. And because any opinion different from the “official” doctrine is not easily accepted.

        1. Oscar: I’ll add—-around the world, people who are Saab enthusiasts—-owners, fans, etc., are starved for real news about the state of Saab. If you go to SU, look at the last few months of entries and see how many comments have been made on each thread. Any tiny shred of news or even RUMORED news about something going on with NEVS/SAAB gets up to 100 comments or more. Stories about driving Saabs around the countryside, swap meets, owner meetings—-3 comments, maybe a few more. What does that tell you? From my perspective, it is saying that we, as Saab lovers, are far more interested in the possible future than we are in the past. Yes, I contributed my hard earned money to the great cause of the Saab museum. I want Saab to live forever in some form and that seems like a great start. But again—-we are live buyers—-we are drivers, owners, car enthusiasts. Maybe that’s why it is so frustrating to have a new owner who doesn’t seem to make even the slightest effort to reach out to me—-and many others in places around the world that aren’t China. We view this as the brand being hijacked, not saved. There were others stepping forward to “save” Saab. If this buyer, NEVS, plans to make electric cars and sell them in China only, that isn’t “saving” a damn thing for me. The only silver lining there is that it puts some terrific people in Sweden back to work. Realistically, how long will that last? If NEVS sells successfully in China, just wait until the only thing holding them back is profit margins. How fast will production shift to the homeland? And if they ARE really serious about building traditional Saabs, with traditional engines, AND EVs, AND selling them in the old markets, shouldn’t they be broadcasting that? I’m not asking for specifics or even commitments—-just their vision.

  27. No journalism is objective, whether interviews, blogs, news reports or whatever. Facts don’t speak for themselves: they always get interpreted to some degree, and with that comes subjectivity.

    However, in terms of balanced and measured subjectivity then Swade’s blog is a cut above many others. The point is that he sets out his stall. “This is where I’m coming from, this is what I think.” That is what matters.

    I guess it is fair to say that there have been some pretty major tensions between Swadeology and SU over who speaks for Saab enthusiasts, who has access to what sources, and who is best equipped to scrutinise those sources, and to what purpose.

    Both Swade and Tim have clearly been through a lot Saab-wise in the past couple of years. That cannot fail to have a bearing on how these guys approach all the issues around Saab going forward.

    I noticed some pretty caustic stuff written here about SU a few weeks ago and since then relations between the two camps seem to have deteriorated.

    I am not saying Swade started a spat. It’s just that was when I first noticed all was not rosy in the Saab blogging garden. While this perhaps gives a little frisson of soap-opera excitement to those outside the situation, it cannot be pleasant for the people concerned so I hope things get smoothed over soon.

    It is fair to say that there is a tendency towards hype and hysteria sometimes at SU – and that can be a bit off-putting. There is also at times a rather mystifying, muddled and contradictory way of talking about what is know or not known as a “fact” according to “sources”, which can be exhausting for all concerned. But on the other hand I do think the guys over there are doing their best, and its a tough gig, especially for those whose involvement in Saab is very personal, and I get a lot out of SU.

    Swade has a couple of distinct advantages over some of the guys at SU. He is writing in his native language. How many anglophone critics of SU are fluent in Swedish, for instance?

    Secondly, Swade is a gifted writer and journalist who, as someone said above, can make pretty much any topic interesting.

    Some of the guys on SU do not have quite the same attributes – they are experts in other fields – but that does not mean they don’t produce good stuff, and indeed there are one or two guys at SU who produce comment and analysis of a very high standard in my opinion.

    I don’t just read stuff I agree with. Life would be very boring and limiting that way. I will continue to read both SU and Swadeology.

    1. I guess it is fair to say that there have been some pretty major tensions between Swadeology and SU over who speaks for Saab enthusiasts

      If there have been tensions out there in reader-land, then that’s where they are. There is no tension emanating from here. As I wrote in this post, Swadeology is not a community website. It is not a Saab website. I don’t claim to speak for enthusiasts in any, way, shape or form. I speak what I think. I know that some people think the same way, but I do not hold myself out to be any sort of crusader. I write about Saab when there’s something interesting to write about, that’s all.

      I noticed some pretty caustic stuff written here about SU a few weeks ago and since then relations between the two camps seem to have deteriorated.

      Some pretty caustic stuff? What I think you’re referring to is one line of an article back on September 4. My thoughts on SU’s meeting with NEVS and how their resulting post related to my lingering questions about NEVS. I’ve re-read that piece several times since to see if it was too harsh and I’m quite comfortable with it over all. If I had my time over I might tone down the bit you might take as caustic – the reference to Tim paying for the pleasure of doing NEVS’s first bit of enthusiast PR. I didn’t mean paying in the manner that people think but Tim took exception to it and a lengthy email exchange followed. I will NOT go into the contents of that discussion in a public forum but I remain quite comfortable with that article and I the considerable amount of time that I put into the discussion with Tim to try and put that article (and other matters) into the proper perspective.

      Some of the guys on SU do not have quite the same attributes – they are experts in other fields – but that does not mean they don’t produce good stuff

      SU has done some fantastic things for the Saab community in the 20 months that Tim’s owned it (and later, with Till in partnership). They’re things that I could never have done as owner from such a remote location. The events have been very well received and the museum car purchase was a fantastic success. I was happy to contribute to it.

      I don’t agree with SU’s editorial stance and they obviously don’t agree with mine when it comes to matters concerning NEVS/Saab. That’s fine. I still count many of the SU Crew as friends and hope to for a long time.


      Let me put this here as I don’t want to do another front page article on what is basically a pretty boring topic. But…..

      There is no competition between my site and SU as far as I’m concerned. This two-sides thing is something that people are drifting towards but it’s not something that I’m trying to create, nor is it something that I encourage. I write about Saab occasionally. When I do, I simply do my work the way I see fit to do it (as outlined in this post) and I have my own considered and educated point of view.

      When I posted the interview and my reflections on it (a combination of articles that I’ve been doing since blogging time began), I had no thought of SU in my mind whatsoever. I did the interview that I wanted to do and I posted the way it made me think/feel. There were no SU-thoughts in the background, there was no SU-subtext and no reference to SU either upfront, implied, veiled or whatever.

      This current wave of criticism about either SU or me personally did not begin on this website. It began the next day with what I think was an ill-advised and defensive piece on SU that quickly became a repository for some even more ill-advised comments. Some ill-advised comments have since appeared here as well, mostly in comments to this article. I don’t find them tasteful but people can say what they want to say (about the site, not about individuals – I have withheld some people’s comments on this post because I felt they were too personal about individuals at SU and that’s not appropriate).

      We’re all amateurs here, but sometimes you’ve got to do your best to act professional. I’ve fallen into the same trap a few times over the years and hopefully I’ve learned from it. Getting personal in the public domain about someone you disagree with never benefits anyone. The best option is doing the best job you can every time you put your shoulder to the wheel, which is what I try to do.

      1. I get that you are not just a Saab guy Swade, and that this is a personal blog. You are first and foremost a talented blogger. But that means you do have a ‘community’ and that community is mostly Saab-orientated. When Swadeology and SU cross swords, then inevitably it is going to make waves.

        In a year or two from now you will look back on this and laugh. Possibly.

  28. If anything is clear by now it is, that Saab in its NEVS version is going to be significantly different than it used to be. That was/is to be expected as the former incarnation of company was not successful in terms of pure mathematics (read economics) for many reasons. I still believe that products as they made them, accounted for only a small fraction of that reasoning.

    Inevitably the transformation of Saab is going to have a cathartic effect to its fan base and to its customer base. I respect the fact and the need that things need to be covered now, I understand that information both in its quality and its quantity is barely, if at all adequate at the moment, to do it properly and I see opinions are formed upon those judgements right now. In my opinion it is much to early, but there we have it: two poles are forming, one that look at the unfolding process with enthusiasm (SU) and the other with Swade’s blog that is comming very close to writting Saab off.

    Honestly there is not much right now to be enthusiastic for in terms of products, as there aren’t any. When will they be and what they will look like, we do not know. Are they going to be saaby or not is anyone’s best guess. How many is Saab going to be able to sell is going to depend upon the market coverage, marketing efforts, availability, qualty, design and pricing (governmental subsidies?). Remember that Saab’s products are not going to compete only against other electric cars, but against petrol driven ones as well, so I wouldn’t go to deep in the ever changing EV-sales projections.

    I choose to take the middleground and stay neutral – wait until there is something to be seen and reserve my judgments. Until then, both SU and Swadeology are going to be my preffered sources of knowing what’s happening and for your effort, I thank both of you. Keep ticking!

  29. NEVS business is a risky one. It is an analysis of the weaknesses and threats of their business plan that I’ve found Swade has tried to come up with – in a very gentlemanly manner. SaabsUnited has done a great job at unveiling the strengths and opportunities of the same endeavour. I’ve needed all of these aspects to make up my mind on what to expect from Saab in the future.

    It went so down the wire with Swan, getting the 9-4X and 9-5 SC out in the (Euro) market and then towards the post GM products. It was close, and very devastating to witness for any Saab fan. I agree with Swade that there are loads of us looking for continuation of that effort (hot hatch and hybrid and the realisation of the Saab legacy) – I certainly belong in this group. I think SU has been toying with the idea that the doors have not been closed on any of that, and that it would be worthwhile to keep calm and wait on.

    Swade’s interview and his comments highlighted that some of those products are not on the agenda, that they are pipedreams at best, and the steps towards them ever to enter the agenda are to be taken in China. The pearl of Swade’s analysis was how much is riding on the success of NEVS EV1 product. They are considering manufacturing a petrol car to help get their EV1 out. They won’t be taking great efforts with their EV2 until the EV1 makes it safely. They are not thinking about hybrids or all new petrol models, as they are focusing on getting their bridgehead in China with the EV1.

    This is crucial to understand. Sweden, too, is on their map only because it is more likely to succeed with the Trollhattan factory and the brand name than with starting anew in China. That’s why all of us Saab fans get to be on this ride. At day’s end, maybe they get to spread their wings in the west and produce cars for the “old target group”, but right now that is not on the fricking cards. What is is their absolute necessity to make it in China, and regarding this Swade raised a pertinent point in his piece: Are Nevs’ calculations actually based on an unrealistic and outdated data on the expected demand for EV vehicles in China?

  30. Regarding NEVS pricing, I posted the following on SU:
    3cyl: BMW, a premium brand (considered more premium than Saab by most), has a USA car available that starts at $31,200. That’s before dealer discounts/incentives.
    $31,850. is the starting price for the Lexus hybrid. Lexus, a premium brand with resale value towering over Saab.
    $25,900. gets you into an Acura, before incentives/discounts. Acura, image-wise, at least on par with Saab as far as “premium” goes, in the opinion of most people.
    $27,270. is the base price for an Audi. Audi. Enough said.
    $35,350. Mercedes Benz
    $35,800. Infiniti Crossover SUV
    I can keep going, but why bother? Can NEVS walk and chew gum at the same time? Can “Premium brand” mean that they offer an entry level car to bring buyers into the Saab fold—-AND also sell upmarket, at prices near 50K? If the answer is “NO” then I suggest we all prepare for another disaster with the car name Saab. If they can’t sell a car for the same, or maybe LESS than a comparable Audi, Acura or Mercedes Benz, they are simply doomed.

  31. The whole NEvS thing gets more bizarre by the day.

    The slightly statist sounding name – National electric vehicle, -, a subsidiary of the even more statist sounding State power company – whose initial business plan is to sell cars solely to government apparatchiks in a communist country.

    (If you look at state power company’s website, the news section has a slight whiff of ‘Dear leader ism’ about it, and not a whole lot about what they actually do.)

    SU seems to be getting all excited about a maybe supposed huge order for (imaginatively named?) EV1 s , even though its unclear that such a car actually exists.

    If success is measured in having something roll,along trollhattens production line, then maybe any old contract will do.

    However, I can’t imagine that a car geared to chinese government sales is going to hold the slightest attraction to me.

    1. Don’t get me started. Well, I guess you did already. Between this being born from the “green” movement, everything you just said too (bizarre name selection for sure), absolutely zero outreach to Saab enthusiasts and utter secrecy about when they might sell cars in the old Saab markets—-so short on specifics—-it’s maddening—it’s hard to imagine that they are serious about anything other than filling contracts. Hey, maybe they will be the Chinese version of AM General, the company that made mail Jeeps and mail trucks for America. The only weird thing is the Swedish connection—-why in the world would you import Chinese government vehicles from Sweden? I really do want this to work—-I want new Saabs to be sold in the U.S.A. again. But is this the path to that end? I’m so furious that the bankruptcy receivers gifted Saab to NEVS (undoubtedly under some outside pressure or perhaps having their pockets lined with money). Mahindra, Brightwell, even Youngman—-might have actually been in this to build Saabs again and sell them to consumers where there are Saab enthusiasts who need cars and want Saabs. This thing has smelled of corruption and incompetency from the very beginning. It’s a mystery how we ended up in this place. As for SU—-I love their site. I realize there is a lot of pie in the sky/pipe dreaming going on and I tell them that on their site. But on the other hand, hope might be the only thing we have left as Saab lovers not living in China!

  32. Well Swade…I enjoy your postings about other cars.. Certainly I come here to read those articles. That they are written by a Saaber, to me, adds perspective and value.

    Say, announced by Ford was their turbo 1 liter 3 cylinder engine..coming in the Fiesta and Focus. It is interesting..more torque and about the same power as their 1.6 liter four cylinder. I know when I replace my Saab I’ll be looking for a hatch and good gas mileage. My Saab dealer has turned into a Fiat dealer so I ponder those vehicles also.