Saab’s owner is planning to restart production of the 9-3 later this year, with an electric version to follow in 2014.
However, National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS) has changed its original plans: the cars won’t be built in Saab’s Trollhattan factory but in China. NEVS has signed a deal with a Chinese investment company to build cars in Qingdao, with the city’s government buying a 22 percent share in the company. And according to reports from China quoted by Autocar, the agreement stipulates that both electric and conventionally-powered cars will be built. Originally NEVS said it would only build Saabs in Trollhattan.
NEVS owns the rights to build the last Saab 9-3, along with an electric ePower version that never made production. The company also owns the right to use the Saab name, but not the Griffin logo.
The market potential for electric Saabs is high as the Chinese government wants to get half a million EVs on the country’s roads within two years. However, the fact that the 9-3 is elderly and the only model NEVS has will not guarantee success.
Another problem is China’s lack of infrastructure to support large numbers of electric cars.