Saab 9-3 EV electric prototype shown by NEVS, 2014Enlarge Photo
Back in May, Saab parent company National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) was thrown a lifeline by the Chinese government when two state-owned entities signed an agreement with the struggling firm for future collaboration in the area of R&D. Now it’s been confirmed that state-owned Chinese automaker Dongfeng is also getting in on the action.
NEVS and Dongfeng have been working together on new vehicle development since July, and the latest agreement will see them collaborate in additional areas such as global purchasing and sales. It’s believed that the agreement will see NEVS receive some much-needed funds as well as support in the Chinese market, while Dongfeng will gain access to new technology and a global dealer network through NEVS’s ownership of Saab.
Some of the specific outcomes of the deal will see Dongfeng support NEVS in the production of new electric vehicles as well as their sales and service in China through Dongfeng’s dealer network. In return, NEVS will support Dongfeng by helping the state-owned automaker’s vehicles meet regulations and technical specifications of overseas markets, primarily Europe and North America.
NEVS’s own vehicles produced in China will be sourced from a new plant located in the port city of Tianjin, the same city rocked by massive explosions last week. After the Saab plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, the Tianjin plant will be NEVS’s second plant. It will be responsible for new electric vehicles, to be sold initially in China, and have a capacity of about 200,000 vehicles annually.
As for Dongfeng, it is the third-largest state-owned automaker in China. Dongfeng has formed several strategic long-term partnerships with other automakers, and owns 14 percent of French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroën.
“Dongfeng is one of the leading vehicle company groups in the world,” NEVS president Mattias Bergman said in a statement. “Through this cooperation, NEVS will be able to create industrial synergies, share the development costs, expand the supplier bases and increase the overall competitiveness for our own future products.
Featured above is an electric Saab 9-3 prototype NEVS showed off one year ago. It had an electric powertrain that developed 140 horsepower and could carry the car roughly 125 miles on a single charge.
NEVS is credited with restarting Saab production after the Swedish automaker went bankrupt in late 2011. However, NEVS was forced to cease production in May of 2014 after it ran out of cash. Even if it manages to restart production a second time, it’s not clear if the company will still be able to use the Saab brand name. We'll bring you an update on the future of Saab as soon as more details are known.