saab 9-3.automotiveIT

New owners plan to market an electric version of the Saab 9-3 (Photo: Saab)

Saab Automobile will get a chance to live on as an electric-vehicle brand following an investment group's successful acquisition of some key corporate assets.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB said it has agreed with bankruptcy administrators to acquire Saab's main plant in Trollhaettan, Sweden, as well as the intellectual property rights for the Saab 9-3 model. It is also buying Saab Automobile Powertrain and and Saab Automobile Tools.

The sale doesn't include Saab's spare parts operation and the property rights for the Saab 9-5 model, which are held by former Saab owner General Motors.

NEVS is an international consortium formed by Japanese, Swedish and Chinese stakeholders. The company plans to establish a new automobile venture in Trollhättan to develop and build electric vehicles.

The first model it wants to build is an electric version of the current Saab 9-3. Launch is planned for late 2013 or early 2014. NEVS will also develop an entirely new model in addition to the electric 9-3.

Though the new Saab will be sold globally, the new owners will focus heavily 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, founder and main owner of National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd, the majority shareholder of NEVS.

He added that Chinese customers are keen to have a premium electric vehicle

NEVS wants to become a leading maker of EVs and plans to use Japanese technology coupled with Swedish engineering skills to build its cars. Development of the first cars will be handled by Swedish, Japanese and Chinese engineers.

Summarizing the ambitions of the new group, Karl-Erling Trogen, chairman of NEVS, said: "We will match Swedish automobile design and manufacturing experience with Japanese EV technology and a strong presence in China."

National Modern Energy Holdings is the majority owner of State Power Group, a Beijing-based company that invests heavily in renewable energy in China. The group operates 28 biomass power plants.

The other major shareholder, Sun Investment, finances Japanese technology for sustainable energy. The company invests in green technologies and aims to bring EV technology to world markets.
Saab was sold by General Motors to Dutch luxury race car maker Spyker in 2010. But Spyker, owned by Dutch entrepreneur Victor Muller, failed to turn around the struggling Swedish brand. Saab filed for bankruptcy in 2011.