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by David Zalstein

The Saab name is set to live on attached to electric vehicles after a Chinese-Japanese consortium signed a purchase agreement to buy the Swedish brand declared insolvent in December 2011.

Saab’s new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), which comprises the Hong Kong-based renewable-energy powerplant builder National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd (51 per cent) and Japanese investment firm Sun Investment LLC (49 per cent), says it is solely focused on the development and production of electric vehicles.

“The company will start a new operation in Trollhattan [western Sweden] where all development and production will be focused on electric cars,” the administrators said.

The group’s first model, which should go on sale by 2014, will be a Saab 9-3-based vehicle modified for electric drive using advanced Japanese EV technology, according to a statement from NEVS. An all-new model will be developed to join the EV-converted 9-3 helping the brand move toward global sales after an initial focus on China – projected to be the largest and most important EV market.

“Electric vehicles powered by clean electricity are the future, and the electric car of the future will be produced in Trollhattan,” said National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB chairman Karl-Erling Trogen.

Neither the current administrator nor NEVS has revealed details on the purchase price but, as an indication, China-based Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile’s June bid of more than four billion kronor ($569 million) proved unsuccessful.

The agreement includes the main assets of Saab Automobile AB, Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB, while the General Motors’ owned intellectual property rights for the Saab 9-5 and Saab Automobile Parts AB are not included.

Saab Australia says that due to Saab Automobile Parts AB remaining an independent company, Saab Parts will continue to serve Saab customers in Australia and New Zealand. Saab Cars Australia managing director Stephen Nicholls said, “There are about 37,000 Saabs on the roads in Australia and New Zealand that we care about. We will continue the work to provide Saab owners with Saab Genuine Parts, service and technical support.”

In 1990 GM bought half of Saab before claiming the remainder in 2000. In 2009 the US automotive giant sold the brand following the global financial crisis leaving it on the brink of closure, allowing fellow Swedes Spyker and Swedish Automobile to buy up Saab in January of 2010.

Saab became an auto builder post World War II after starting out manufacturing aircraft. It released its first turbocharged model, the Saab 99, in the 1970s.




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