Saab resurrected to build electric 9-3 ePower for China
The quest to rescue the Saab brand has fallen upon a consortium of Chinese, Japanese and Swedish investors, with the launch of a new company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS). The company's first goal will be to resurrect the Saab 9-3, as an electric car, targeting it for sale in China because of strong demand for electric cars in China.
As rumored a couple weeks ago (see: SAAB Could Become An Electric Car Company and Electric vehicle company may have purchased Saab), NEVS has agreed to buy, for an undisclosed price, the bulk of the assets of Saab Automobile AB, Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB. An earlier deal had been scuttled by GM over ownership of patents and technology, and as a result the current deal does not include Saab Automobile Parts AB, as well as intellectual property rights regarding the Saab 9-5. The new company will own the Saab brand name, trade marks, trade names, and other branding. NEVS will be headquartered in Trollhattan, where development and production will be focused on electric cars.
While the initial goal is an electric Saab 9-3, presumably it will be the 9-3 ePower concept car. At the 2010 Paris Auto Show, Saab unveiled the Saab 9-3 ePower, based on the 9-3 SportCombi wagon. That concept car had a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a top speed of 93 miles per hour (150 km/h), and an estimated driving range of 125 mi (201 km). It used a 135 kilowatt (181 horsepower) drive train from UQM, and batteries from Boston Power. The ePower was to have begun a two-year trials, with 70 vehicles, in Sweden, with the goal of turning the on-road testing into a production vehicle. There was no word on whether UQM and Boston Power will continue supplying components for the new electric 9-3.
A presentation released by NEVS shows a roadmap of two electric vehicles. The first, to be launched in 2013/14, and a second to be launched later. The second Saab EV will be based on Japanese electric vehicle technology and the Phoenix platform. It also projects electric car sales in China to be much larger than in other companies, however by 2020 U.S. and Chinese electric car sales should be roughly the same.
Because GM owns the rights to the Saab 9-5, that car is not (at this time) planned to be resurrected by the new Saab (NEVS). James R. Cain, manager of GM financial news, is quoted by Inside Line saying: "We don't own Saab common stock. We owned preferred stock that we wrote down to a negligible level upon receipt. The technology license issue revolved around the (Saab) 9-5 and 9-4X that we built for Saab. We're not involved in the liquidation and sale of the company."