2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin rangeEnlarge Photo
With NEVS’ acquisition of Saab and some of the bankrupt automaker’s remaining assets complete, the consortium, made up of Chinese and Japanese interests, is now focused on the launch of its first model. The plan is to start production at Saab’s main facility in Trollhättan, Sweden and then eventually ramp up production in China as well.
Speaking with Automotive News (subscription required), NEVS spokesman Mikael Oestlund said the company had hired about 300 staff at the Trollhättan plant and that production could be restarted this year.
Oestlund went on to reveal that the first car will be similar to the last 9-3, which Saab stopped building in 2011 just prior to its bankruptcy. He said it will feature a turbocharged engine and should be available with an electric drivetrain next year (NEVS had originally planned to turn Saab into an electric car brand). The batteries for the electric version are to be sourced from NEVS sister company Beijing National Battery Technology.
If successful, NEVS will eventually launch a new generation of Saab cars based on the Phoenix platform that was under development at the time of Saab's bankruptcy and destined for the next-generation 9-3 and other future Saabs. The platform is mostly unique, though around 20 percent consists of components sourced from former Saab parent General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] and will need to be replaced.
The plan is to keep Saab a global brand, with a return to the U.S. market in the cards. Stay tuned for an update.