Weep no more SAAB-philes and sing the tunes of Louis Lambert! National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) is seeking to restart production at the automaker’s mothballed factory in Sweden later this year.
Mikael Oestlund is the spokesman for National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which is owned by the Chinese renewable energy investor that bought Saab out of bankruptcy last August. Oestlund said recently: “It is possible to start production later this year” , hinting that the factory was almost ready to begin production. About 300 people have been recruited to be trained in assembly.”
Oestlund said a 9-3 that will go into production will be very similar to the 2011 version. Gas and electric versions would be offered with the electric version having distinct styling cues and using batteries built by NEV’s sister company Beijing National Battery Technology, which builds batteries for city buses.
“Saab will again be a global brand, but we will gradually add markets,” said Oetlund. China and Europe would be first to get the new 9-3 with the U.S. to be added later. “The U.S. market is important for us and we intend to enter when we see that we have a business case.”
NEVS plans to build approximately 120,000 units of the 9-3 a year by 2016. This would pick up where the last 9-3 left off building 133,000 units in 2006.
NEVS is also 22 percent owned by Qingdao, a city in China. NEVS and Beijing National Battery Technology are owned by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings. Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings is run by Swedish-Chinese green energy entrepreneur Kai Johan Jiang – quite a circuitous route for the resurrection of our beloved Swedish brand.
It will be good to see the Saab brand return even if it is through strange means. Wasn’t that the appeal of Saab in the first place? It was just a little quirky, just a little offbeat and thriving despite not following the status quo. Maybe we can conclude, at this point, that Saab is in good – albeit foreign – hands.