Production of the Saab 9-3 sedan will restart for the second time, only this time around the cars will be sold under the NEVS brand, feature electric powertrains and be produced in China.
NEVS, which bought the assets of Saab following the Swedish firm’s bankruptcy in late 2011, and briefly produced the 9-3 in Sweden in early 2014 before running into its own financial difficulties, has plans to become an electric car company and provider of mobility services, focusing initially on the Chinese market.
NEVS on Wednesday received approval from the Chinese government to produce electric cars at a plant under construction in Tianjin, a major port city in northeastern China. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2017, with an annual capacity of 200,000 cars.
NEVS has already signed deals with Chinese firms to supply electric 9-3 sedans. The most lucrative is a $12 billion deal with electric car leasing firm Panda New Energy. Under the agreement, NEVS will supply Panda with 150,000 electric 9-3s between now and 2020. Part of the agreement will also see Panda receive 100,000 additional electric cars from NEVS as well as some related services from companies associated with NEVS.
NEVS wants to eventually offer a portfolio of electric cars. These additional cars will be true next-generation designs based on the Phoenix platform being developed by Saab prior to its bankruptcy. NEVS has previously hinted that it intends to launch three SUVs plus a sedan with a fastback roof.