Saab: Rebirth will be electric affair

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Saab was developing the all-electric ePower when the company went bankrupt in December. The manufacturer has not yet confirmed whether it will now continue with it or design something new.

Chinese expected to be biggest buyers of Swedish brand

Their main focus to make profit lies with the Chinese market. The resurrection of bankrupt Swedish car-maker Saab now looks set to go ahead, with the announcement that National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has finalised its acquisition of Saab assets.

NEVS' chairman, Karl-Erling Trogen says the company would introduce a Saab-branded "world-class" electric vehicle "based on Saab 9-3 technologies and a new technology electric powertrain" in about 18 months.

In a cash transaction of undisclosed value, NEVS acquired the main assets of Saab Automobile AB, Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB.

NEVS also secured intellectual property rights for the Saab 9-3 and next-generation Phoenix platform, tooling, the manufacturing plant, test and laboratory facilities and shares in the property company that owned Saab facilities in Trollhattan.

The acquisition comes just days after former Saab Automobile owner, Spyker, and Chinese car-maker Youngman agreed to enter a joint-venture to produce high-end vehicles on the Phoenix architecture - but it is unclear how this will pan out if NEVS also has rights to it.

When NEVS announced its intention to resurrect Saab in June, it was a consortium 51 per cent owned by Hong Kong-based National Modern Energy Holdings (NMEH) and 49 per cent by Japanese fund Sun Investment but NEVS is now wholly owned by NMEH.

Founder and CEO of NMEH, Kai Johan Jiang, says engineering and development for its first EV had been under way for an extended period in China and Japan.

"Now, with the manufacturing facilities in our possession, we are able to continue development work on site at Trollhattan," he says.

NEVS says recruitment for the management team and key positions is under way and 75 offers of employment have been made so far.

Before it went bankrupt in December last year Saab had been working on the all-electric 9-3 ePower with a target range of 200km and an intended 2015 on-sale date - but it is not yet known if NEVS will use ePower technology or go it alone.

NEVS has signed a licensing agreement with defence contractor and former Saab Automobile owner Saab AB to use the Saab brand for its vehicles and related products and services, but does not have the rights to use its familiar emblem featuring a red griffin on a blue background.

However, the manufacturing organisation will operate under the NEVS name.

Trogen says finalising its acquisition of Saab assets would enable NEVS to multiply its efforts to implement the business plan.

It has been reported that the car NEVS is developing will be aimed primarily at the Chinese market, but NEVS officials, Johan Andersson and Mattias Bergman, denied this in an interview with enthusiast website SaabsUnited, which was founded by Australian Steven Wade, who went on to run the official Inside Saab blog.

According to SaabsUnited, NEVS "aims for a global market directly from the start" but concludes the Chinese market is most likely to provide the largest sales volume "due to its highly developed infrastructure to support electric cars".

"NEVS will sell Saabs worldwide from day one but their main focus to make profit lies with the Chinese market," it reported.

The site also says NEVS aims to retain Saab's premium image and quality, and is of the opinion that building its cars in Sweden rather than in China helps to maintain its European allure and associated high image among Chinese buyers.

- Go Auto

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