This first NEVS 9-3 models have rolled off the production line in China.
The Swedish car brand Saab went belly up back in 2010, after parent company General Motors shut it down after getting tired of footing the bill. Dutch supercar maker called Spyker bought the remains of Saab, but was unsuccessful in bringing the brand back to life. The world was left with nothing but the quirky used models that the once proud Swedish brand had left behind. Saab may not have been a successful company in the end, but it did produce some rather amazing models over the years. And now the company is making yet another comeback.
We knew that we could soon see brand-new Saab models under the umbrella of a new company, with design plans to turn the old 9-3 into an EV. The company is called NEVS, which stands for "National Electric Vehicle Sweden." This Chinese-Swedish company purchased Saab's assets back in 2012 and has just begun production of a rebadged 9-3 sedan at its new factory Tianjin, China. On December 5, the first NEVS 9-3 EVs rolled off the factory floor in a moment which the company called "an important milestone in implementing NEVS' vision to shape mobility for a more sustainable future and to start delivering EVs to our partners."
NEVs says that its current production capacity is 50,000 units per year, which will increase to 220,000 units in phase two. We have seen that production issues can derail the launch of a car like the Tesla Model 3, so it's good to see that NEVS has strong production capabilities. The 9-3 itself has not been changed much since the car's introduction back in 2002. Despite riding on a dated platform, the NEVs 9-3 comes with a range of 186 miles, an in-cabin air filtration system that removes up to 99 percent of air particulates (perfect for polluted cities in China), in-car WiFi, smartphone connectivity and over-the-air software update capabilities.
The new 9-3 may not have a significant impact on the US at the moment, but NEVS is currently developing three generations of EV powertrains at its R&D facilities in Tianjin, China and Trollhattan, Sweden. So far, NEVS has relied on an old chassis from Saab, but we see a lot of potential for this company in the future as it branches beyond the old Saab architecture. It just goes to show that even though Saab didn't succeed, some of its ideas are still being carried into the future.