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Swedish Car Brand Saab Produces Test Models; Return to United States Planned?

By: Jeff Youngs, 9/27/2013
Swedish premium car brand Saab and its 9-3 model, including electric variants, may return to U.S. showrooms in the near future. During late September, several test model 9-3s, including a silver 9-3 sedan, were built at the automaker's plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, ahead of a launch later this year, according to the new company owner and media reports.

The test cars are the first vehicles to be produced since the plant closed more than two years ago (April 2011), the same year that Saab filed for bankruptcy. The brand is now owned by National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), which has Chinese ownership.

NEVS plans to produce and launch the 9-3 powered by a turbocharged gasoline engine later this year and will first sell these models in Europe and China. The model will be similar to the last Saab produced in 2011. A version of the car with an electric powertrain is planned for 2014, and it will have a refreshed exterior. The company also said it will build cars based on the Phoenix architecture that was developed by Saab before the automaker entered bankruptcy.

Before NEVS purchased Saab, it was owned by Spyker, a Dutch maker of hand-built sports cars, which was unable to revive the brand after trying to arrange deals with investors in China. Previously, General Motors owned the Saab brand from 2000 through 2010 when it sold the Swedish carmaker to Spyker.

The new owner, NEVS, plans to be a player in the auto industry with a focus on electric vehicles (EVs). It is based in Trollhättan, and has a sister company, Beijing National Battery Technology, in China, which operates a manufacturing plant for electric vehicle batteries in Beijing. NEVS is majority-owned (78%) by National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd., which has a renewable energy company called the State Power Group in China with 31 biofuel power plants.

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