Manufacturing News

Saab focuses on China market as it resumes production

Saab's new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, has restarted production of the 9-3 sedan at its plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. Sales of the mid-sized sedan will be "initially focused" in China, the company said in a statement.

NEVS says production of its first Saab model, the 9-3 Aero fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine, will be "very modest" with output of 10 cars a week.

NEVS is owned by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings, which is run by Swedish-Chinese entrepreneur Kai Johan Jiang. Following a deal earlier this year, NEVS is 22 percent owned by the Chinese city of Qingdao.

In its statement, NEVS said a small number of vehicles will be sold directly to Swedish customers via its Web site starting next week. The car, which resembles the last 9-3 built at Trollhattan two years ago, will start at 279,000 crowns (260,000 yuan).

The last cars produced by the automaker rolled off the production line in 2011. Saab, then under the control of Spyker NV, filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 19 of that year. NEVS bought Saab out of bankruptcy last August.

The production start became possible after NEVS reached an agreement with 400 suppliers to produce the sedan, the company said.

"It is truly a complex mission to start a car production process which has been still for two and a half years," said NEVS President Mattias Bergman in the statement. "It is very pleasing that we have embarked on a journey where we want to and will make a difference with our partners and customers."

Service and parts distribution for the vehicles will be provided in partnership with Orio, formerly known as Saab Automotive Parts, NEVs added.

The company says it plans to begin production of an electric variant of the 9-3 in 2014, with China as its first market.

NEVS previously said it planned to build cars based on the Phoenix architecture developed by Saab before it went bankrupt. The company modified the platform to remove the 20 percent of parts sourced from former owner General Motors.

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