Once a coveted luxury car brand, Saab has been the hot potato of the automotive world. Today, it was announced that the bankrupt car maker would change hands for the third time in 12 years, this time to a group of Chinese and Japanese investors who intend on using the Saab brand to sell electric vehicles.
The investment group, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, announced today that it has reached a deal — for an undisclosed amount of money — to acquire Saab from its receivers.
NEVS says it intends to have the first electric Saab — based on the current Saab 9-3 — ready for market by late 2013 or early 2014.
The new owners say Saab will also be developing a new EV model primarily for 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, 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.”
In spite of the Chinese-Japanese ownership, the new company’s chairman says he intends for manufacturing of the new EVs to happen at a new facility in TrollhÃ¤ttan, Sweden, where it had been assembling cars before going bankrupt.
“We will match Swedish automobile design and manufacturing experience with Japanese EV technology and a strong presence in China,” he explains. “Electric vehicles powered by clean electricity are the future, and the electric car of the future will be produced in TrollhÃ¤ttan.”
The Saab sob story goes back to the turn of the century, when the Swedish car brand became a subsidiary of General Motors. In 2010, GM sold Saab to specialty car maker Spyker (later called Swedish Automobile), but retained some interest in the company. In late 2011, Saab finally declared bankruptcy, in no small part because GM blocked potential sales to Chinese investors.