Saab plans Mini rival after deal

* Deal struck with Chinese car makers * Three new models planned with new investment * 9-1 thought to be based on Mini...

Saab plans Mini rival after deal

Saab's future looks to have been secured following a deal struck with two Chinese car companies under which Saab will develop three new models.

The joint-venture between Saab, Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile will result in a 245m (220m approx) investment into Saab, which will help fund the forthcoming Saab 9-1, the 9-6X and the 9-7 models. This figure is almost double the amount of investment announced when the companies issued their initial memorandum of understanding last month.

The Saab 9-1 is thought to be a supermini based on BMW's Mini.

'The entry-level 9-1 will appeal to urban motorists around the globe,' said Pang Qingnian, ceo of Youngman.

'It's a car that has long been on top of our wish list,' added Victor Muller, ceo of Saab.

The Saab 9-6X is thought to be a large 4x4. The mid-sized 9-4X SUV is due to go on sale by the end of the year. The 9-7 is expected to be a large saloon.

'Both will be key to enhancing the prestige of the Saab brand to a larger group of customers in China and the US,' explained Pang Qingnian.

Saab has endured some difficult times recently. A proposed deal with Chinese car maker Hawtai fell through in May, it had problems paying its suppliers, and production at its factory in Sweden has been interrupted because it struggled to pay its staff.

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