Saab to build electric vehicles; Focus on China image

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), a new company created by two firms in Hong Kong and Japan just a few months ago and registered in Sweden saved Saab yesterday.

The consortium will pay 1.5 billion to 1.8 billion Swedish kronor ($212 million) for the bankrupt Saab, excluding its separate Saab Automobile Parts AB unit.

Swedish Enterprise Minister Annie Loeoef welcomed the deal, saying in a statement it was “positive news for the Swedish auto industry and for the region.

At a hastily called news conference at Saab’s manufacturing plant in Trollhattan, in western Sweden, NEVS said it would initially focus the sale of its electricity cars on the Chinese market, but that it also has wider plans to expand more globally in the long-term.

“China is investing heavily in developing the EV market, which is a key driver for the ongoing technology shift to reduce dependence on fossil fuels,” said Kai Johan Jiang, founder and main owner of National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd, the majority shareholder of NEVS.

“The Chinese can increasingly afford cars; however, the global oil supply would not suffice if they all buy petroleum-fueled vehicles. Chinese customers demand a premium electric vehicle, which we will be able to offer by acquiring Saab Automobile in Trollhättan.”

The first vehicle under the plan will be based on Saab’s 9-3 car, which will be adapted to electric with advanced technologies from Japan, and go on sale in early 2014, NEVS and Saab said in a joint statement.

Saab has risen again,” said Paul Akerlund, the mayor of Trollhattan and a former union boss at Saab.
Despite his enthusiasm, NEVS chairman Karl-Erling Trogen said NEVS would initially need only about 200 staff, well below the 3,500 Saab used to employ.

Saab has been making cars since 1947 but went bust at the end of 2011, less than two years after former owner General Motors sold it to Dutch group Spyker.
Despite its distinctive brand and loyal fanbase, Saab has struggled against bigger competitors and failed to capitalise on emerging market demand for premium cars in recent years.