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NEVS Push On With Saab Revamp

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NEVS Push On With Saab Revamp

Geoff Maxted
September 20, 2013

When an old established automotive name rises like the phoenix from the fiery furnace of financial disaster then it should be a cause for celebration. Saab is such a name and, following on from the abortive Spyker attempt to resurrect the brand, their new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), has built two Saab 9-3 test cars at the company's Trollhattan assembly plant in Sweden ahead of a production launch later this year. This planned restarting of production was announced some time back although the car will carry a new logo as future Saab cars will not have the distinctive griffin head badge seen on previous cars after NEVS failed to acquire the rights to use the badge when it bought Saab out of bankruptcy last August.

The vehicles, which left the production line on Wednesday, are the first Saabs to be built at the plant since it closed in April 2011 ahead of the car maker filing for bankruptcy eight months later. NEVS say the cars are primarily intended to assist in calibrating production line systems and to test new components ahead of full production.

"Prior to our decision to start production of Saab cars, we need to finalize a few remaining dialogues to build partnerships with suppliers. We now know that the plant is ready for production," Mattias Bergman, acting president of NEVS said on Wednesday.

NEVS plans to start output of the 9-3 powered by a turbocharged petrol engine later this year. The model will be very similar to the last Saab produced in 2011 apparently. The question is though, is that the right way forward? Obviously it costs a whole lot more to produce a brand new car but does it make sense to resurrect an old model that was already dated in 2011? Still, Saab has its old customer base to fall back on as many loyal old-school Saab fans will be glad to see it back.

NEVS has said previously it also plans to build cars based on the Phoenix architecture developed by Saab before the business went bankrupt. The platform will have to be modified to remove the 20% of parts sourced from General Motors.

The company plans to build 120,000 units of the 9-3 a year by 2016. That target would come close to the brand's 2006 peak of 133,000 vehicles. NEVS says the 9-3 will be sold in Europe and China initially with America possibly following later. Let’s hope that this time they can keep it going.

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