Saab saved, will be transformed into an EV manufacturer
Just when all hope of survival finally seemed lost, the bulk of the remaining assets of Saab Automobile AB have been purchased by a consortium known as National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS). Despite its name, this joint venture is primarily made up of Hong Kong-based National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd. and a Japanese investment group, Sun Investment LLC, along with receivers of the Saab Automobile bankruptcy estate. No sale price was announced, but it is known that while the deal also includes the assets of Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB, it does not cover Saab Automobile Parts AB, which will be taken over by the Swedish National Debt office. Also exempt are all intellectual property rights related to the Saab 9-5, which will remain with General Motors.
According to the press release, Saab Automobile AB -- which hasn't built a vehicle in Sweden since March of 2011 -- it is going to be resurrected in the automaker's home town of Trollhätten, as a manufacturer of premium electric vehicles. The first of these will be based on the current Saab 9-3. Target launch for that conversion car is late in 2013 or early 2014. During the same time interval, NEVS plans to develop an all-new model "based on additional cutting-edge technology from Japan" that relies on a collaborative between Swedish, Japanese and Chinese engineers. The operation anticipates global marketing and sales, with an initial focus on China, which it sees as representing the potentially largest and most important EV opportunity.
"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."
Karl-Erling Trogen, Chairman, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB noted "We will match Swedish automobile design and manufacturing experience with Japanese EV technology and a strong presence in China. Electric vehicles powered by clean electricity are the future, and the electric car of the future will be produced in Trollhättan." Only time will tell whether NEVS will be able to successfully pull off this incredibly ambitious undertaking.