The long battle to restore Saab as an automaker is over, with the owner of the assets of the former Swedish automaker, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, confirming today that its future cars will be sold under the new brand NEVS.
The news will be sad for Saab fans all over the globe though at least now the automaker can finally be laid to rest. After all, concerns over Saab’s fate date back to General Motors Company’s [NYSE:GM] bankruptcy days late last decade.
While NEVS, a Swedish firm with Chinese backers, was able to acquire most of Saab’s assets following the Swedish automaker’s own bankruptcy in 2011, the rights to the Saab brand and famous griffin logo were owned by a separate defense firm known as Saab as well as truck manufacturer Scania. NEVS was initially allowed to use the Saab brand (though not the griffin logo) but lost this right when its own finances hit the skids in 2014.
Fast forward to today and NEVS says it is sticking with its original plan for Saab and that’s to focus on sustainable mobility by offering electric cars and new mobility solutions built around them. Its first model will be a rebadged version of the former Saab 9-3 sedan which NEVS briefly built at Saab’s plant in Trollhättan, Sweden in 2013. It says the 9-3, this time with an electric drivetrain, will start production in 2017 and initially be offered for sale in China.
NEVS has already signed a few deals with firms in China and Turkey to either supply vehicles or license technology. NEVS will also produce vehicles in China at some point, though initially it will use the plant in Trollhättan.
If all goes to plan, NEVS will launch its first new model in 2018. NEVS has already outlined plans for four new models based on the Phoenix platform that Saab was developing prior to its bankruptcy. The four models include three SUVs plus a sports sedan with a fastback roof.
“Building on our car manufacturing heritage, we will continue to focus on quality, craftsmanship and people-centric solutions, but we will add new dimensions to our business through our partnerships and collaborations,” NEVS President Mattias Bergman said in a statement. “In doing so, we will leave the Saab trademark and go forth with a new identity that will support our large and increasingly important vision—to shape mobility for a more sustainable future.”
The heritage Bergman is referring to dates back to 1945 when the Saab as an automaker was founded (the Saab name dates back to the founding of the Saab defense firm in 1937). Saab’s first car was a hand-built prototype known as the Ursaab, which was completed in 1946. It spawned Saab’s first production model, the 92, three years later.