Saab survives again, this time as a Chinese joint venture electric car

Happier times, when Saab relauched production in March, 2010.

When Saab started production again after purchase from GM by Spyker, the first Saab 9-5 coming off the production line had the Saab griffin logo on its hood.

Saab simply refuses to go away. This time, however, only the name, engineering for the new Saab 9-3 and the Phoenix concept car, and the old manufacturing facilities in Trollhattan, Sweden, remain. That and plans to build a new electric automobile.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, or Nevs, a joint venture between China’s National Modern Energy Holdings and the Japanese fund Sun Investment, has purchased the name Saab and will be able to use it on vehicles, but the Saab griffen logo, which had been shared by the old Saab automobile companies with Saab aerospace and defense industry along with Saab-Scania trucks, is not part of the deal, which includes Saab Automobile, Saab Automobile Powertrain and Saab Automobile Tools.

Regardless of the logo, Nevs expects to bring out its first car in about a year and a half, during the first half of 2014, according to the company.

Said chairman of Nevs, Karl-Erling Trogen, in a statement on Monday, “In approximately 18 months, we plan to introduce our first electric vehicle based on Saab 9-3 technologies and a new technology electric powertrain”.

The timeframe is possible because of the advanced state of progress on the new Saab 9-3 when Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy last December.

“The acquisition includes intellectual property rights for the Saab 9-3, intellectual property rights for the Phoenix platform, tools, the manufacturing plant, and test and laboratory facilities,” NEVS said.

“The acquisition also comprises all outstanding shares in the property company which owned the Saab facilities in Trollhattan, Sweden.”

The new cars, despite being built in Trollhattan at the Saab facilities, are primarily aimed at the Chinese market. “The Chinese can increasingly afford cars” Nevs main owner Kai Johan Jiang, was quoted by The Local, but added that “global oil supply would not suffice if they all buy petroleum-fuelled vehicles.”

The Swedish government supports the acquisition.

“The aim of developing new electric cars based on Saab’s proven technology is innovative and forward-looking. It fits in well with the existing research and development in the Swedish automobile industry,” according to a statement from minister for enterprise Annie Lööf.

NEVS is now in the process of recruiting new management and engineers, according to the news agency AFP.

But Saab surviving? That’s been promised before.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.