The Saab 9-3 will soon be back in production in Sweden. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a conglomerate that purchased most of Saab's intellectual property last year, has begun building test examples of the Saab 9-3 on its assembly line in Trollhättan, Sweden, according to a company statement.
This is just the latest twist in the long story of Saab's demise. The Swedish automaker filed for bankruptcy in December 2011, but various companies -- including supercar manufacturer Spyker -- attempted to rescue the automaker. Eventually, NEVS assumed Saab intellectual property rights in August 2012. NEVS is a conglomerate of Swedish, Japanese, and Chinese interests that also owns, among other ventures, an electric-car battery plant in China.
The cars assembled in Sweden so far are pre-series models used to test out the assembly line. "We have assembled our first car to verify all the production processes here in Trollhättan," NEVS acting president Mattias Bergman said in a statement. "We now know that the plant is ready for production."
NEVS has so far released little information on its resurrected Saab 9-3, although Automotive News reports the car will be very similar to the outgoing model that was sold until Saab entered bankruptcy. It will use a turbocharged gasoline engine. An all-electric Saab 9-3 is planned for 2014, along with an exterior face-lift. Because NEVS was unable to license the Saab "Griffin" emblem, AN reports that the new Saab 9-3 models, seen above, will instead have a new "Saab" logo embossed in a black circle. The company plans to sell the new Saab 9-3 in Europe and China initially, and may attempt to sell it in the U.S. at a later date.
NEWS also acquired rights to the "Phoenix" architecture that Saab was developing for its next-generation cars, and intends to continue developing that platform for new models. However, the technology will reportedly need extensive modification because about 20 percent of it used General Motors technology that is no longer available to NEVS.
When he was appointed to his post earlier this month, acting president Bergman said in a statement, "We will continue to develop the company [NEVS] with the aim to become a leading car manufacturer with a focus on electric vehicles."