National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Chinese-backed company that purchased the remains of Saab in 2012, has barely been able to keep itself afloat. Yet now it appears NEVS thinks it can make good on it promise to build electric cars on old Saab platforms.
Speaking at the Stora Bildagen automotive conference in Sweden last week, NEVS president Mattias Bergman said the company plans to launch four new models. Slides from Bergman’s presentation were posted by SaabBlog. They show plans to use the Phoenix platform originally developed for a new generation of post-General Motors Saabs.
The four new models will include a sedan and three crossovers, according to NEVS. The crossovers are known for now as the “Distinctive Family SUV,” “Urban Adventurer,” and “Sporty Urban SUV.” If all goes according to plan, the four Phoenix-based models will launch in 2018 with electric powertrains. Before that, though, NEVS still plans to launch an electric version of the previous-generation Saab 9-3.
Production at the former Saab factory in Trollhattan, Sweden, is slated to begin in 2017. But the resurrected model may not be called a Saab: NEVS lost the right to use the Saab name last year, although it’s working to get the rights back. In addition to building cars in Trollhattan, NEVS plans to start production in Tianjin, China, at some point.
Since NEVS took stewardship of Saab, it’s been hard to tell whether the company has been saving the carmaker, or making its death more painful. After Saab was cut loose from GM and withered in the hands of boutique Dutch carmaker Spyker, NEVS appeared in 2012 with a plan to build electric cars on existing Saab platforms, primarily for the Chinese market.
But NEVS quickly encountered financial trouble. Earlier this year, it was given some financial support by Chinese carmaker Dongfeng. NEVS built a handful of gasoline 9-3s in Sweden beginning in December 2013, and built at least one electric prototype, but hasn’t produced any significant volumes of cars. It also recently licensed the 9-3 design to Turkey for use as a “national car” there.