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NEVS kills off Saab car brand

Unplugged: On-again, off-again Swedish car brand Saab is finally off, with its owner, NEVS, carving out its own branding for its upcoming electric vehicles.

Saab disappears into history as owner NEVS focusses on electric vehicles for China

22 Jun 2016

FINALLY, Saab is dead and buried as a car brand. The owner of Saab Automobile’s assets, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), has decided to relinquish the Saab badge and instead use its own NEVS branding as it carves out a future in electric vehicles.

One of the few remnants of the 71-year-old Trollhattan brand in the new operation will be the use of the Saab 9-3 platform as the basis of the first NEVS mass-produced EV that is scheduled to go into production next year.

NEVS, which is owned by Hong Kong-based National Modern Energy Holdings in association with a couple of Chinese companies, bought the assets of Saab Automobile in 2012 after a disastrous attempt by Netherland’s Spyker Cars to resurrect the company when it was abandoned by General Motors in the global financial crisis.

NEVS had hoped to build Saab cars alongside its electric vehicles, but that vision has now evaporated.

Company president Mattias Bergman said NEVS would focus on sustainable mobility based around electric vehicles, with the Chinese market as the first priority.

“With sincere respect to our history and heritage, we want to be recognised as ourselves – a sustainable mobility solutions provider who are committed to the environment with a focused growth plan with its own brand as a corner stone,” he said.

Mr Bergman said the automotive industry was changing rapidly to better fit societies struggling with pollution and congestion problems.

NEVS says it has signed a number of “framework agreements”, including a strategic partnership with China’s Panda New Energy to deliver 150,000 electric cars and another 100,000 electric commercial vehicles, as well as collaboration with Chinese State Grid, the world’s largest electric utility company.

Panda is a new-energy vehicle leasing company, apparently servicing chauffeured car operations in China. Its stated aim is to become one of the biggest EV leasing companies in the world.

NEVS sales and marketing vice president Jonas Hernqvist said: “I believe the tipping point for electric vehicles is very near in many key markets. We aim to contribute to a more sustainable city planning, and together with our partners such as State Grid and Panda New Energy jointly introduce a new business model for mobility.”

Saab Automobiles was founded in 1947 as an offshoot of the Swedish aerospace company founded 10 years earlier as Svenska Aeroplan AB (Swedish Aeroplane Company Limited). This company lives on in Sweden as a successful manufacturer of military aircraft and radar systems, Saab Group.

GM bought Saab Automobile in 1990, but when the parent company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, offloaded it to Spyker Cars. The bid to revive Saab collapsed a year later under weight of debt and GM’s refusal to share its intellectual property with potential Chinese backers.

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