Saab to be reborn as electric vehicle manufacturer?

A multinational joint venture has bought the assets of bankrupt Saab, and says Saab will become an electric vehicle manufacturer. The new company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, (NEVS) is a consortium of National Modern Energy Holdings of China (the largest shareholder) plus Japanese and Swedish interests. The idea is to make an electric version of the 9-3 by 2014 in Saab’s Swedish factory. The technology will mostly be Japanese, but the main target market will be China.

The Chinese shareholders said, “The Chinese can increasingly afford cars; however, the global oil supply would not suffice if they all buy petroleum-fuelled vehicles. Chinese customers demand a premium electric vehicle which we will be able to offer by acquiring Saab Automobile in Trollhättan.”Can we see any problems with this cunning plan? How long have you got? Firstly, the deal excludes the recent Saab 9-5, whose Intellectual Property is owned by General Motors (GM). GM would never sell the 9-5 platform as it uses technology from current Opel/Vauxhall models, so it won’t give away its knowledge to a potential competitor. That leaves Saab’s only model as the ancient 9-3, which by 2014, will be laughably out-of-date. Then there’s the whole Chinese pot-of-gold thing. Yes, China is potentially a good market for electric vehicles. That is why every major car company will be selling them by 2014. Purpose designed Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 or converted 12-year-old Saab 9-3 platform. Which would you choose?The consortium says it will also develop its own new model for sale some time after 2014. That might be good news, but again, it has to compete with the world’s best car companies who, unless the Chinese backers are as rich as Apple, have far more resources.