Production of the Saab 9-3 will resume later this year while an electric version will follow in 2014, according to National Electric Vehicles Sweden, the owner of the Saab brand. However, these cars will be produced in China instead of at Saab’s Trollhattan factory, as part of the modification in NEVS’s initial plan.
NEVS has inked an agreement with a Chinese investment company to produce cars in Qingdao. The city’s government has acquired a 22% share in the company. Chinese media said that under the deal, both electric and conventionally-powered cars will be built. NEVS owns the rights to build the last Saab 9-3, as well as the electric ePower version that never started production.
In addition, it has the right to use the Saab name. NEVS had originally set out to build Saab units only at Trollhattan. China’s government hopes that half a million electric vehicles will be seen on the streets within two years so there’s a big potential for electric Saabs. The problem is that the 9-3 is aging and it is also the only model NVS has.
It may not be enough for the company to stay afloat. Even with the government’s plans, China actually doesn’t have the right infrastructure to sustain numerous electric cars. New agreements between local investors and foreign companies need a long and complicated state approval that may take up to 18 months. Because of this reason alone, it would appear impossible for production to begin this year.