Despite the odds, Swedish automaker Saab has been kept alive by a last minute deal facilitated by a Chinese company that will turn the traditional automaker into a builder of electric vehicles. New details about the deal indicate that Saab’s buyer, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, will likely ship old Saab 9-3 models to China for sale, and will deliver its first pure electric car by 2014.
Saab, which was sold by GM to Spyker in 2010, has been pegged as dead more times than we can count. Even so, the Swedish automaker continues to soldier on. While there is still plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this latest plan, NEVS has managed to secure more than $307 million in funding from the Qingdao Qingbo Investment Company. This will give QQIC a 22% of NEVS shares; for its part, NEVS has pledged to move Saab production from Sweden to the Qingdao eventually.
For now though, NEVS has indicated that it may sell old, gas-powered versions of the Saab 9-3 in China. NEVS will ship these cars from Sweden to China, initially, but once a manufacturing plant is built in China, we expect production to move there permanently. By 2014, NEVS says Saab will begin delivering its first EVs.
That is where the details end. Will the new Saab EV be based on the old 9-3 as well? Will Saab EVs be for sale internationally, or will it become a wholly Chinese brand? Can NEVS really deliver a pure electric Saab in less than two years?
Many questions. Few answers. But one thing is certain; it is a lot harder to kill a Swedish automaker than many people thought.