Saab to be reborn as electric car maker

* Bankrupt manufacturer's assets sold * Consortium to build EVs at Saab base * Saab 9-3 EV conversion by 2014...

Saab to be reborn as electric car maker

Saab has been sold to an international consortium, which plans to build and develop electric vehicles at the bankrupt car maker's Trollhttan base in Sweden.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has signed an agreement to buy the main assets of the car maker, which includes Phoenix; a development platform for future Saabs.

However, Saab Automobile Parts and the intellectual rights to the Saab 9-5 owned by General Motors are not included in the deal.

The NEVS consortium is made up of Chinese, Japanese and Swedish stakeholders, and will form its development and production base at the Trollhttan facility. From here, it will concentrate solely on electric vehicles.

Development will start with a model based on the current Saab 9-3, which will be modified using electric-vehicle technology from Japan. The all-electric model is scheduled to be launched by the end of 2014 at the latest.

Alongside the 9-3 conversion, an all-new model will also be developed. This will be marketed globally, but its initial sales focus will be on the Chinese market.

'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, 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-fuelled vehicles. Chinese customers demand a premium electric vehicle, which we will be able to offer by acquiring Saab Automobile in Trollhttan.'

Saab began producing cars in 1947, but ceased trading in 2011. At the time of its closure, the company was owned by Dutch car maker Spyker, which had bought it from General Motors two years earlier.

Pete Barden

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