Automotive

Published on August 23rd, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Saab To Restart Production

Good news for Saab enthusiasts. News from Sweden has just been confirmed that the Saab factory will be reopened and production will restart this December 2013. The Saab plant in Trollhattan is “practically ready” to begin building the 9-3 mid-sized car, said Mikael Oestlund, a spokesman for National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). The company has recruited about 300 people including team leaders to oversee assembly, “It is possible to start production later this year,” he said. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, which is owned by a Chinese renewable energy investor, bought Saab out of bankruptcy last August.

Oestlund said the 9-3 that will go into production will be very similar to the 9-3 that Saab stopped building in 2011. He did not disclose engine details except to say that the gasoline version would be turbocharged. An electric version, planned to launch next year, would be given a much more comprehensive face-lift, he said. Oestlund said the 9-3 will be sold in Europe and China initially with U.S. sales possible later. “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,” he said.

NEVS also plans to build cars based on the Phoenix architecture developed by Saab before the automaker went bankrupt in 2011. The platform will have to be modified to remove the 20 percent of parts sourced from former Saab owner General Motors, Oestlund said.

“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,” he said. Oestlund said the 9-3 electric version will use batteries built by sister company Beijing National Battery Technology, which builds batteries for city buses. NEVS and Beijing National Battery Technology are owned by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings, which is run by Swedish-Chinese green energy entrepreneur Kai Johan Jiang. NEVS is 22 percent owned by the Chinese city of Qingdao following a deal earlier this year. NEVS plans to build 120,000 units of the 9-3 a year by 2016, according to a report by Bloomberg in January. That target would come close to the brand’s 2006 peak of 133,000 autos.


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