“We'vealreadyreceivedordersfor300,000electricvehicles,whileourfacilityinTianjinisstillunderconstructionwithproductionslatedtostartattheendof2017,”KaiJohanJiang,chairmanof National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), proudly told the media recently.
NEVS, an electric vehicle maker based on 70 years of long Saab history, has received a great deal of media attention due to its large order from Panda New Energy in December 2015, and in January 2017, China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved NEVS' application for new energy vehicle production license, paving way for production of electric vehicles at its manufacturing plant in Tianjin. The EV production license approved by NDRC is required to manufacture electric vehicles in China and NEVS was the ninth company and the first joint venture company with investors from outside China that has been granted such a license.
NEVS, which is owned 51 percent by Chinese-born Swedish citizen Jiang's National Modern Energy Holdings, broke the equivalent of the sound barrier in China autos when it emerged as the winning bidder for the assets of Saab in 2012, with the aim of transforming it into a leading electric car maker. In the agreement signed by both sides, the company will own the rights of using the Saab 9-3 and the Saab next-generation Phoenix platform. NEVS plans to develop a product portfolio of EVs and mobility services globally, with China as the first and most demanding market for the coming years. And the company has made some great milestones on the road to becoming a true global EV company catching everyone's attention.
From Saab to NEVS
Saab already had developed a 9-3-based EV before its chronic financial woes caused its collapse. The Saab ePower was a joint development of the Swedish automaker, the Swedish Energy Agency and the country’s electric industry trade association, called Power Circle, along with U.S.-based battery maker Boston Power, and Sweden’s Electroengine AB, a battery management systems provider. By acquiring Saab, NEVS could get a big head start in the EV business. The logo was not included in the asset purchase, and the company lost the rights to the Saab name as well in 2014, which means cars sold by the company will be marketed under the NEVS brand name. The NEVS EVs based on the Saab 9-3 are fully developed by engineers in Trollhättan and the cars will be manufactured and sold only in China for the time being.
So far, NEVS has delivered 15 GN7001EVs, all of which have reached the highest level base on the criteria according to Jiang. In the sample test report presented, results of vehicle safety, reliability, power, as well as collision tests are all much better than standards. For example, it has a top speed of about 150.8 km/h (standard is greater than 120 km/h). The net weight of vehicle is 1,755 kg, and it has a claimed range of about 276.4 km. Its power consumption per 100 km is 14.1 (standard is less than 20).
As Jiang said, NEVS is already in the process of constructing the manufacturing plant that will be producing EVs in Tianjin. The company's plan for production is to begin before the end of 2017. At full capacity, the factory will be able to produce up to 200,000 EVs annually. Today NEVS has more than 3,100 employees all over the world, of which over 1,000 are in Trollhättan. Its international management team comprises members specialized in each area of automotive industry and all have years of industry experiences. Just to name a few: NEVS Global President Stefan Tilk once worked at the World Bank and led Volvo Cars' new energy program. Top executive Stig Nodi in charge of technology and product planning has 35 years of experiences in the auto industry and was former chief engineer of Saab and General Motors.
April 2012: NEVS registered in Sweden
August 2012: Acquires Saab Automobile assets
December 2013: Produces limited quantities of the Saab 9-3 MY2014
August 2014: Launches the first 9-3 electric vehicle prototype
June 2015: Establishes two joint ventures in Tianjin Binhai High-Tech Zone
August 2015: Signs framework agreement with Dongfeng Motor
October 2015: Becomes TÜB?TAK technical partner for the development of the Turkish national electric car
November 2015: Forms partnership with Renesas, one of the world’s largest automotive semi-conductor manufacturers
December 2015: Signs deal with Panda New Energy to deliver 150,000 EVs and 100,000 transportation vehicles
January 2016: Signs deal with Volinco to deliver 20,000 electric vehicles and to collaborate on component development
March 2016: Signs strategic cooperation agreement with State Grid Electric Vehicle Service, one of the world’s largest utility companies
May 2016: Signs contract to acquire 50 percent of Fujian New Longma Motor
January 2017: Becomes 9th Chinese company to receive production license for new energy passenger vehicles
Kai Johan Jiang – the man of the deal
When Jiang first became involved in Saab, former Saab executive Steve Rossi says he was skeptical of his business plan of an electric makeover for the iconic brand. But Jiang soon changed his opinion by inking the 150,000-unit deal with Panda New Energy. And in China's business circles, Jiang is an intriguing person who is well connected.
He was a senior adviser for Volvo Cars before entering the biomass energy business in 2002. After consulting with his colleague Karl Erling Trogen – who is now a director on his board – about which industry had a bright future and came to conclusion that environmental sustainability was a key to a robust future for the planet and decided to establish a world-leading company in renewable energy, choosing biomass power as its main focus. And they founded Dragon Power in 2004. By 2006, they had a straw biomass-powered plant up and running in Shandong Province, the first of its kind in biomass energy in China.
Although not an expert in the auto industry, Jiang is sure a master of resource integration and acquisition. A number of framework agreements have already been signed, including the agreement with Panda New Energy as well as the collaboration with China's State Grid Corp. In May 2016, NEVS officially took over Fujian New Long Ma (NLM) Motor. Panda New Energy initially expects to receive an all-electric minibus that seats 38 passengers and an electric commercial van. Over the next four to five years, Panda New Energy will also buy 50,000 minibuses and 50,000 courier vans from NEVS, with an aim of becoming the largest electric car leasing company in the world. NEVS also struck a deal with the Turkish government to license production of the 9-3 in that country, which Turkish officials hope would stimulate the local auto industry.
In addition, NEVS also established two new strategic partnerships with Chinese government for its Chinese facilities: Tianjin Binhai Hi-Tech Industrial Development Area (THT) and the Beijing State Research Information Technology Co., Ltd. (SRIT). Tianjin is one of the biggest coastal cities in China and has significantly promoted new energy vehicles both in the form of consumer subsidies and official procurements. Together with the two partners, NEVS has been in the process of establishing its second global factory and a second global RD center.
Tianjin's fast growing national level demonstration zone THT embraces a long history of automotive industry and it's where the JV production plant will be built. This will give NEVS a strong foothold on the increasing EV market in that area and China, as well as providing NEVS access to the existing suppliers there.
SRIT is a pioneering IT service provider owned by China's Research Development Center of the State Council, and the telecommunications giant China Unicom.
As software services and connectivity as well as new energy vehicles are the major and increasing trend within the auto industry, the cooperation with SRIT and its owners will give NEVS a unique possibility to place itself at the forefront of connectivity for the future. SRIT as a partner will also open up more opportunities for NEVS.
As part of a global expansion, the company is also building an end-to-end, automated manufacturing chain for the production of next-generational EVs with a vision of providing a global portfolio of connected mobility solutions and fully electric premium cars.
NEVS has adopted SAP S/4HANA and SAP for its technology solutions to reach this ambitious goal. The solution was designed, built and operated in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Applications Services and infrastructure services teams. HPE has employed its IP in the form of process templates for SAP Automotive Solutions specifically developed for car manufacturers, based on best practices derived from many years of working with OEM's building vehicle plants and back office platforms.
The SAP-based platform at the heart of NEVS integrated manufacturing platform connects every process, person and entity involved from incoming order to delivery of a finished car. The company believes that SAP S/4HANA, with its modern database technology and in-memory computing capabilities, is the integral component for managing high volume, high complexity car manufacturing.
“Understanding all aspects of the cost of development from end-to-end is crucial, and SAP S/4HANA offers many advantages we can capitalize on. After all, being in tune with the market place and adjusting your cost base accordingly is invaluable,” said Conny Janson, vice president of IS/IT, National Electric Sweden AB.
Shaping mobility for a sustainable future
At eCar Expo 2016, Jonas Hernqvist, vice president of NEVS, presented the company’s plans for the future regarding mobility solutions, ideas on autonomous driving and how the environmental impact is driving the development of new technologies. NEVS senior director of Mobility Services Michèl Annink presented NEVS' approach to the new landscape on both individual, societal and system level in order to shape mobility for a more sustainable future.
Last year, Volvo Cars parent Geely launched the LYNK CO brand. It could become a competitor for NEVS which also has the goal of developing “future of mobility” where cars are not necessarily sold at a retailer but may be shared between several people – smart mobility solutions. As Volvo’s local competitor both in China and Sweden, NEVS is also not idle, and has invested and put a big bet on self-driving cars. “NEVS has changed plans and invested now in developing self-driving cars and is establishing partnerships with companies outside of the automotive sector,” said CEO Mattias Bergman. “The cars are moving today in a very complex environment with other participants. When you automate it, it means that you have to have sensor systems and software algorithms that can handle the complexity,” explained Hans-Martin Duringhof, who is responsible for vehicle electronics at NEVS. NEVS’ first car on the new platform with autonomous driving technology is planned to be launched around 2020.
The auto industry is changing rapidly to better fit societies struggling with pollution and congestion problems. NEVS intends to be in the forefront of this change and it has a unique position by combining proven ability to develop and build high quality premium cars and at the same time the opportunity to build an auto company for the future with new owners and partners specialized in car sharing solutions and charging infrastructure.
“I believe the tipping point for electric vehicles is very near in many key markets. We aim to contribute to a more sustainable city planning, and together with our partners such as State Grid and Panda New Energy to jointly introduce a new business model for mobility,” said Jonas Hernqvist. “Our long-term business goal is set globally, with China as its first priority and most demanding market for the coming years. NEVS intends to build a strong footprint in China as a base for global expansion, and continue to establish partnerships with forefront runners to shape the future of mobility solutions.”
Will NEVS be successful with this portfolio? Time will tell, but with respect to its history and heritage and the solid strategy from its innovative Chairman there are more than some possibilities, and if the cars can combine Swedish engineering and manufacturing skills with advanced electric vehicle technology and deliver in terms of performance and looks, they could be rapidly seen as a big player in the EV market.
The original version of this article appeared in the April 2017 (Vol. 12, No. 4) issue of China Automotive Review (CAR), our monthly tabloid magazine in English on the Chinese auto industry.
© 本刊所有图片、文字及版式版权均为【中国汽车要闻】（China Business Update）所有，未经授权许可，不得复制或用作其它商业用途，其他网站及平面媒体如需转载，须注明作者及出处。