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Chinese City Buys Stake In Saab’s New Owner NEVS

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2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin range

2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin range

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Saab’s new owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has just entered a deal with the city of Qingdao, located in China’s Shandong-province, which will see the coastal city become the strategic gateway for Saab’s cars in China.

Qingdao, via its Qingdao Qingbo Investment company, will initially invest approximately $305 million in NEVS, for which it will receive a 22 percent stake in the company.

Eventually, Qingdao and NEVS plan to form a joint venture in China to help sell a new generation of Saab cars. A plant to be established in Qingdao will also produce Saab models once capacity at the original Saab factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, reaches capacity.

No further details about what the joint venture will entail have been released, though the two companies have confirmed that a feasibility study to guide the future partnership has been established.

Additionally, NEVS CEO Kai Johan Jiang hinted that the city of Qingdao could be the company’s first customer.

NEVS, which last August acquired the remnants of Saab following the Swedish automaker’s bankruptcy, has previously stated that it plans to launch a new generation of Saab cars with electric drivetrains. The company has also hinted at launching models with conventional gasoline engines in addition to its electric cars.

NEVS has the rights to the Saab name but not the famous griffin logo. It also has the rights to the designs for the 9-3 as well as the new Phoenix platform developed by Saab prior to its bankruptcy.

NEVS’ first model will be an electric version of the 9-3 sedan, which it plans to manufacture at the former Saab plant in Trollhättan from the second half of this year. Of course, that production date is not set in stone as NEVS concedes that it is only “studying” the opportunity to start production this year.   

If production does ramp up, NEVS says its first Saab model could be on sale by early 2014.
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