Saab's Ghost Continues to Roam the Earth, Starting in China

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

When National Electric Vehicle Sweden bought out Saab Automobile after its 2011 filing for bankruptcy, it expected to get the whole enchilada and went straight to work producing electric 9-3s. However, NEVS filed for bankruptcy itself a few years later and production of those EV 9-3s stopped as it hunted for financial backing from China. Fed up, Saab AB revoked the company’s right to use its name on future NEVS-built products.

While that only changes the badging and branding, it made it feel a little like Electric Vehicle Sweden is defiling Saab’s corpse without the namesake and company’s blessing. Still, the pathway to bringing that disgusting dream to life remained long and dark. NEVS said from day one that its goal was to bring “Saab” back to the world but, after a $12 billion deal with Panda New Energy, it would have to tackle China and plenty of red tape first. After substantial delays, it appears to have found a pair of scissors.

According to GreenCarReports, China’s government approved NEVS’ application to begin production of electric vehicles in its manufacturing plant in Tianjin. The electric vehicle production license approved by the Chinese National Development Reform Commission is required in order to manufacture electric vehicles within China.

It may be behind schedule but, with no more financial woes and a green light on production, it is ready to attempt its goal of 100,000 electric not-so-Saab 9-3s before moving onto world domination. NEVS’ factory in Tianjin is under construction and anticipated to be up and running by the end of this year, with an annual capacity of 200,000 electric passenger vehicles.

“I am very grateful for the approval we now have received for the electric vehicle production license. It is an extremely important milestone for NEVS, which is based on 70 years of Saab’s long history. It means that we can take the next step to realize our vision— shape mobility for a more sustainable future,” Kai Johan Jiang, chairman of NEVS, said in a statement.

Assuming the company finds success out east, NEVS wants to expand its lineup to include crossovers and an electric fastback. It is also required to fulfill its commitments in China before it can think about the global market and that will take years. By the time something makes it to North American shores, there is a good chance it’ll share about as many components with a Saab as the International Space Station.


Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jan 30, 2017

    Talk about the walking dead...where's Lucille when you need her?

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 30, 2017

    "I am very grateful for the approval we now have received for the electric vehicle production license. It is an extremely important milestone for NEVS, which is based on 70 years of Saab’s long history." I don't see what these two statements have in common. They're converting an old platform into an EV; the history of the name-only company is irrelevant.

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.