The Saab 9-3 has to have one of the strangest histories of any automobile ever to reach mass production. Intended as a replacement for the 900, the model used a pair of GM-based platforms split between two generations before dying out when Saab went bankrupt in December of 2011.
The company’s assets were purchased by National Electric Vehicle Sweden the following year. NEVS spent the following years attempting to relaunch the 9-3 as an all-electric vehicle. Despite multiple occasions where it seemed like the project had stagnated into oblivion, the firm actually started assembly on a rebadged 9-3 EV sedan in Tianjin, China, this December.
Now the company is saying it intends to expand production to Saab’s vintage factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, while also considering adding additional facilities in China and Turkey. Who could have imagined that the world’s next hot-ticket EV would be a model introduced in 2002 under a defunct nameplate?
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.
You can forget about ever buying a new car with the Saab name attached. That’s right, Swedeophiles, the name that conjures up happy memories of a quirky-but-attainable brand that hated column-mounted ignitions is officially dead.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), the Swedish holding company that bought up Saab Automobile’s assets in a 2012 bankruptcy sale, just announced it won’t sell any vehicles under the Saab name.
There won’t be a Swedish Spring after all. Not even in China.
This is the new News Round-up where we cover all the things you should know that may or may not deserve a headline on their own (or we may have simply run out of time to cover them). It’s similar to the “While Your Were Sleeping” news coverage, but not the same, hence the name change.
This morning, Jaguar announced they are going racing again, the automaker formerly known as Saab has a business plan and the Tesla Model X has a price spread that would make Porsche blush.
The Turkish Science, Industry and Technology ministry announced last week that it had purchased the intellectual property rights — but not naming rights — to the second-generation Saab 9-3 that was most recently produced by National Electric Vehicle Sweden, according to Digital Trends.
According to the ministry, the car will be produced with 85 percent of its materials coming from the country, and will sport a face from the defunct Cadillac BLS.
The Swedish car company, who owns most of the shuttered Saab, sold the rights to the Turkish government after it stopped producing the all-electric Saab in 2014. The new car will be powered initially by some engine, according to the report, with the ministry working with NEVS to make an electric powertrain.
With the Saab name reclaimed by the mothership, a host of financial problems, and no product beyond a 10-year-old platform, what else is left for National Electric Vehicle Sweden to do? If you said, “Tap out,” then you just might see that hand pounding the mat rather quickly.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Chinese backed company formed to buy the assets of Saab, says that it has hired 300 workers for the factory in Trollhattan, Sweden and that it hopes to start making cars again there by the end of this year. Mikael Oestlund, a spokesman for NEVS, told Automotive News Europe that the Trollhattan plant is “practically ready” to begin production of the 9-3 sedan. That production is dependent on coming to agreements with suppliers. Also, some of Saabs former suppliers failed when the automaker went under and replacements for those parts must be found. “We are not there yet and therefore we are not able to make the decision of start of production,” Oestlund said.
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- JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
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