Under Chinese ownership, Saab set to go electric
Swedish carmaker Saab looks set become an electric vehicle manufacturer after an Asian consortium bought the company yesterday, in a deal by a Chinese alternative energy tycoon.
SAAB’s new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), bought the iconic Swedish brand from Dutch group Spyker for an undisclosed price after it filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011.
National Modern Energy Holdings, which is headed by Chinese entrepreneur and proponent of environment protection, Kai Johan Jiang, now holds a 51 percent stake in NEVS while Sun Investment LLC, said to be a Japanese company, holds the remaining 49 percent.
NEVS said yesterday that although its marketing and sales will be global, it will initially focus on the developing electric vehicle market in China and intends to launch an all-electric car based on the current Saab 9-3, in 2014. Other models will be rolled out based on Japanese technology, agencies reported.
Jiang said the exponential growth of the Chinese economy meant more and more of its population could afford cars, but he added that global oil supply constraints meant all these new motorists would not be able to drive petrol-fuelled vehicles.
"China is investing heavily in developing the EV market, which is a key driver for the ongoing technology shift to reduce dependence on fossil fuels," he said in a statement. "Chinese customers demand a premium electric vehicle, which we will be able to offer by acquiring Saab Automobile."
The new company will recruit skilled engineers as part of its goal to become a leading EV manufacturer, Karl-Erling Trogen, chairman of NEVS, added, although lay-offs are expected at the company's Trollhättan plant, which has not produced a car since March last year.