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‘Saab’ 9-3 rolls again as NEVS boots up

Familiar face: The all-electric NEVS 9-3 is based on the Saab 9-3 that dates from 2002.

All-electric NEVS 9-3 the first of three EVs planned by Chinese consortium

6 Dec 2017

IT HAS been a long, stop-start journey, but the all-electric “Saab” 9-3 production car is finally rolling from the assembly line, this time in China under the badges of Chinese-owned NEVS – National Electric Vehicle Sweden.

Looking much like the original Saab 9-3 built in Sweden until Saab Automobile AB filed for bankruptcy under a mountain of debt in 2011, the NEVS 9-3 is aimed at the Chinese market where it will be built initially at the rate of 50,000 units a year, rising to 200,000 a year at some point in the future.

Production kicked off at the plant in Tianjin, near Beijing, on Tuesday, in readiness for a sales launch to Chinese consumers in 2018.

Originally a Hong Kong-Japanese-owned company that still has its research and development headquarters in Trollhattan, NEVS acquired the assets of the bankrupt Saab in 2012 with the original intention of building all-electric Saabs in the Swedish company’s home town in Sweden.

When that plan spluttered to a halt through lack of funds, NEVS sold out to Chinese investors who took production tooling to China where the government this year approved production of the 9-3 EV based on the original mid-sized car that sits on General Motors’ Epsilon II platform dating from 2002.

NEVS says the 9-3 is the first of three generations of electric vehicle that it plans to bring to market in China.

It says the second- and third-generation vehicles – which it indicates might be exported – are being developed in co-operation with new NEVS co-owner and giant Chinese ride-sharing and mobility company DiDi Chuxing – owner of Uber China, among other brands.

Many of NEVS’ cars will be sold directly to DiDi which last year claimed to have as many as 20 million ride-sharing customers a day across its various services in China in 2016, making it one of the biggest such mobility providers in the world.

It plans to have one million electric vehicles running on its platform by 2020.

“As the automobile industry is quickly changing, not only from conventional cars to EVs ,but also into vehicles without drivers and serving new business models where our customers want to use the car but not own it,” NEVS said in a statement.

NEVS’ press release announcing the production start for the 9-3 did not disclose any specifications or performance figures for the vehicle which it says it using its first-generation technology.

However, it has previously said the car will have a 300km range.

In 2014, NEVS showed a 9-3 Aero EV prototype powered by a 100kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery with a driving range of 200km.

The car could dash from a standing start to 0-100km/h in 10 seconds, before hitting a maximum top speed of 120km/h.

Apart from DiDi, NEVS has a joint venture with Chinese electric vehicle service company, Global Energy Interconnection Corporation (GEIDCO) to provide infrastructure and services for NEVS electric vehicle customers.

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