Positive: Stig Nodin Returns To Saab

Update: translation corrected (the perils of working with Google).

I couldn’t help but notice a recent report in Trollhattan’s daily newspaper, TTELA, stating that Stig Nodin has returned to Saab to be the company’s Technical Director.

Stig Nodin worked at Saab for two-and-a-half decades and is universally respected for his engineering knowledge. He left Saab around 2007-08 to go and work for Iveco. I remember the time because it was just after I met him at the Saab Festival in Trollhattan, in 2007. We were both admiring a display of Saab Sonett II’s at the festival when we got chatting.

That Stig Nodin has returned to Saab is of particular interest to me because there must have been a compelling reason for him to go back to work there.

There are a number of “greybeards” at Saab already. It’s wise of NEVS to hire them as they know the product and they know the factory. Men like Saab’s powertrain chief, Kjell AC Bergstrom and the manufacturing chief, Stig Runesson. For those guys, however, it was almost a matter of natural momentum to keep going at Saab. They were there, they had a hiccup in their time there, and then they were back. There was a natural progression.

What’s curious about Stig Nodin returning is that he’s been away for six years. Even if his time at Iveco was up and he just wanted to come home, it makes for a very interesting outcome that he’s back working at Saab.

If I were him, if I had his record of accomplishment and respect in the industry, I’d want to know that I was coming back to something that was real, something that was viable. From the article in TTELA, he seems to think the same way:

What was your view of Nevs before?

– With the knowledge I have of this industry, I saw it as a really difficult challenge for Nevs.

But they convinced you?

– They didn’t try to convince me in any way. They told me about their plans and what they want to accomplish, and I liked what I heard, says Nodin.

This leads me back to the thing that’s most frustrating about NEVS. What Stig Nodin was alluding to in that quote – a really difficult challenge for NEVS – was that their business case (as we know it) makes very little sense. He knows enough about the industry to know this. And yet they convinced him.

So….. they’ve got plans that are compelling enough to convince a wise, hardened industry veteran like Stig Nodin and yet they don’t have a single story to engage the public with?

I cannot believe that a guy like Stig Nodin is returning to Saab simply to fatten up his pension. He could be forgiven for doing so – the work is there to be done, after all – but I wouldn’t believe it for a second. If it’s interesting enough to engage a mind like his, then surely there’s a story to be told.

I can tell you there are plenty of people waiting to hear what the story is, wanting it to be a good one. The appointment of Stig Nodin is an encouraging sign, but NEVS actually having something to say and saying it would make the company look like something other than an entity that’s not really sure where it’s going.


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  1. I worked for Saab from 1983 to 2011, so I’ve never worked for any company other than Saab. (Now I have my own company that rents out accommodation in Cannes, on the French Riviera, but that’s another story.)

    I remember the day when Stig quit Saab. I met him on the stairs and he said, in short, that he was going to Italy. Stig, who was the last line of defense against Opel, was going to quit.

    Then in the “fikarummet” one of us from the “old guard” expressed that a lighthouse has been extinguished, so now we are at the mercy of ourselves.

    I very much wish Stig, Nevs and Trollhättan the very best and I hope one day I can buy a Saab again!

    1. As mentioned in the article, I only met Stig once and my time in close contact with the company was after he left. But I got the impression that he was one of those old warriors trying to make sure that Saabs were made a certain way. A bit like Peter Augustsson, perhaps (but I’m guessing).

      Nice to see him back.

  2. Hi there Swade!
    Just a tiny little thing. When Stig wad asked if they had convinced him, his reply was: they didn’t try to convince according to the article.
    I also think that a guy ith that background choose to get onboard, that is a pretty significant signal to us all!

    1. TTAero beat me to it:
      “– De försökte inte övertyga mig på något sätt.” is actually translated to “They did NOT in any way try to convince me.”

      Otherwise I agree, this is very good news. I didn’t know much about Stig Nodin before I read this news a few days ago but it seems like he’s a knowledgeable guy. It’s also nice to hear that current CTO Kjell AC Bergström stays with NEVS as Senior Advisor Powertrain.

    2. Thanks TT. I got similar advice via email while I was sleeping. The perils of working with Google Translate 🙂

      Fixed now. Thankfully it doesn’t alter the tone of what he said significantly.

      And yes, important appointment.

  3. Thanks for flagging this up, Swade. I agree with you: this is more good news. The fact that Nodin didn’t need convincing to rejoin after NEVS told him their plans makes complete sense to me. It shows us NEVS is working hard to keep the Saab DNA in the company – only a fool would deny that now – and as a result another veteran who knows his stuff believes they have a chance based on what he, in confidence, has been shown. They will do the big PR push for the world at large when they ready. It’s simple, really 🙂

    1. Have it your own way, Allan. Personally, I think it would be quite naive to simply think that everything’s hunky-dory. What I think – I think they’ve been obsessed with finally building something in the timeframe they said they would. I think they’ve got something to prove in terms of whether they can finally get some working cars off the production line, that the loss of face should they not do that would be devastating. I don’t think that the highest levels of management have got much beyond that.

      Swedes are a very practical bunch and there’s plenty of reason to think Stig’s there because of the intellectual challenge and the pleasure of working through it with some old teammates. That he sees some light at the end of the tunnel is indeed encouraging, however. There’s something in that, for sure.

      In the absence of information about what they’re actually doing, you can only go with what you know. The measure of Saab DNA is not something that we know.

      1. Good point Swade, maybe I am being naive (it wouldn’t be the first time) – but come on, you must admit it looks pretty good so far in terms of them keeping the ‘Saabness’ intact. My basic point is, we just need to chill out here a little bit. They will do what they need to do on the PR and marketing front when they’re ready. And if they don’t, well… THEN you can forcefeed me a barrow-load of humble pie with lashings of cream 🙂

        1. Allan, I’ll help you with that pie in that case!
          I see the silince as a sign of confidence (could be very wrong here). And I can’t help but feel so good about the progress beeing done instead of a pr guy tells us progress is being made.

          Feels genuine in a way marketing never will.

          The absolute best would of coarse be a “NEVS Inside” where the good parts could be told as info, not as marketing.

          1. Granting interviews to the automotive press or having a 21st century website to update people who love Saab cars—-is not overt, cheesy marketing. NEVS could and should be doing those things, even if they aren’t ready to run commercials! Silence can indeed mean strength. It can also mean confusion/lack of confidence/uncertainty. In this case, I hope it’s the former, but I have my doubts. One thing is for sure: They are not strong at communicating and without that—-no matter how good their cars might be, they won’t sell enough of them to stay in business.

      2. Swade you are right on this—-your instincts remain sharp, I’d say! I’ve worked in some form of advertising/PR/marketing for over 25 years, almost 30 in fact. You don’t turn this on and off like a water faucet. The time to be doing PR/Marketing for NEVS isn’t in the future, it was in the past, They are blowing an opportunity to have a terrific product introduction and worldwide enthusiasm for the brand, even in markets like mine, who won’t be getting the first new Saabs—-and who might never see a new one—-but to keep their options open, NEVS should be nurturing the Saab base instead of alienating it, as they have done for a year and a half now. Have they negotiated any dealership arrangements yet, anywhere? Does anybody here know?

  4. Great article Steven and thanks for bringing this to our attention – I’m not all over TTELA and SU hasn’t passed this info on, but this seems a pretty big deal to me and a great indication that on paper at least the intention is there to build on the Saab brand in a genuine and natural way.

    I thought as much when I saw the first car off the line – in something as seemingly simple as the choice of paint colour they sent a message that is very Saab – understated, tasteful, simple. Their website and the new Saab mark show the same restraint, a restraint that people like me and many others who choose Saab value.

    More of that please.