Saab’s plant in Trollhattan, Sweden is preparing to pick up where the former GM-operated automaker left off – with a twist being an electric version of its 9-3 mid-sized car to be produced alongside gas variants by the company with a new name.
The revitalized company is called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), and is owned by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings, which is run by Swedish-Chinese green energy entrepreneur Kai Johan Jiang.
This has been the case since last August when the renewable energy company took over, and it has been working to revive an economic linchpin for the beleaguered town.
About 7 percent of the town’s population – 3,400 people – lost their jobs following Saab’s bankruptcy, and in January this year Bloomberg reported locals were praying for someone to rescue their stricken economy.
So far, NEVS has recruited about 300 employees including management.
This week, Automotive News Europe reported NEVS spokesman Mikael Oestlund said the plant is “practically ready.”
“It is possible to start production later this year,” he said.
Rising From The Ashes
The electric car will use batteries built by sister company Beijing National Battery Technology. Presently the Chinese company builds batteries used in city buses.
A gas version similar to the 2011-spec 9-3 will come before the EV however, and the appropriately named “Phoenix” architecture will also be carried on since it was initially drawn with 20 percent GM components.
The platform will be modified to delete GM content and replace it with other branded parts. It was not stated whether electrified versions of this architecture may also come forth.
“The Phoenix architecture is very flexible and when fully developed it will give us the opportunity to design and manufacture several models from smaller to bigger cars. We have not yet decided which models and we have no time plan — that is some years ahead,” Oestlund said.
Initial plans are to sell the 9-3 in Europe and China, with an eye toward the U.S. when possible.
“Saab will again be a global brand, but we will gradually add markets. The U.S. market is important for us and we intend to enter when we see that we have a business case,” Oestlund said.