‘Cars will be built in Trollhättan’: Saab buyers

'Cars will be built in Trollhättan': Saab buyers
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the new buyers of Saab, said on Wednesday that they want to continue to build cars in Trollhättan and that they will be recruiting a number of engineers to be able to establish themselves as one of the leading manufacturers of electric cars.

“We have a world–class plant and a lot of expertise in this area. That is decisive element,” said NEVS chairman Karl-Erling Trogen during Wednesday’s press conference.

But that the car will be manufactured in Trollhättan doesn’t mean that the first car NEVS produces will bear the Saab logo. Nor will its key market be Sweden but rather China, according to NEVS spokesperson Mattias Bergman.

“NEVS aims to become a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles,” the company said on Wednesday.

NEVS, which is 51-percent owned by Hong Kong-based alternative energy specialist National Modern Energy Holdings and 49-percent owned by Japanese investment firm Sun Investment LLC, was “established for the purpose of acquiring the assets of the Saab Automobile bankruptcy estate,” according to the statement.

The company explained that it planned to create a new model based on the current Saab 9-3, “which will be modified for electric drive using advanced EV (electric vehicle) technology from Japan.”

It is hoped that the new car should be rolled out at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. This will mean that the company will have to take on more staff.

“Initially we’ll be recruiting engineers and management. We’ll get help from Japanese and Chinese engineers and develop a good cooperation with a consultancy firm with former Saab employees,” Trogen said.

”We’ll start with a few hundred at least, but I can’t say much more at this point.”

Saab filed for bankruptcy in December last year. It was already on the brink of bankruptcy when GM sold it in early 2010 to Dutch company Swedish Automobile (SWAN) – at the time called Spyker – for $400 million (308 million euros).

Bankruptcy administrators said in April that Saab had assets to cover only just over a third of its debt of 13 billion kronor ($1.8 billion, 1.5 billion euros).

“The sale to NEVS is our most important action to realise the assets of the estate,” Anne-Marie Pouteaux, one of the Saab administrators said in Wednesday’s statement, adding “we are very pleased today, having reached this agreement.”

Swedish union IF Metall, to which many Saab workers belong, hailed the agreement and the new owners’ innovative spirit.

“It’s exciting to focus on electric vehicles, which are very timely in an international perspective,” the union said in a statement.

“We have too few electric cars on the road in Sweden and are far behind many countries. With this new focus, new export opportunities will likely open up,” it said.

Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven also welcomed the deal, during a press conference on Wednesday that it is “good for Trollhättan, for the region and for Sweden”.

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