Two new 9-3 saloons mark the start of Saab's NEVS-backed future
20 September 2013

The first new Saabs have been built since the Trollhättan production line ground to a halt in June 2011.

Two 9-3 saloons left the line around 15 months after the assets of Saab and the Swedish Trollhättan factory were acquired by the newly created  - and Chinese-backed - National Electric Vehicle Sweden.

Although this 9-3 pre-production car is powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines used in the pre-collapse series production cars, this is just a stop-gap operation.

According to senior sources at Trollhättan, NEVS will build a batch of petrol-powered 9-3s in order to de-bug the production and build process, before the company switches to building the promised all-electric version of the 9-3. The initial 9-3 production run has been pre-sold to three Chinese government agencies.

Development work on the 9-3's lithium-ion-phosphorus batteries is being carried out in Japan and the first production ‘pouch cells’ have already been delivered to a Chinese company that makes electric buses.

The pre-production car was partly intended to show that the NEVS team had overcome the very tricky issue of re-building the supplier chain for the 9-3, as well as re-designing and replacing components that could no longer be sourced.

Sources say that future 9-3 models will benefit from styling upgrades and other changes by the time they are launched in electric guise. NEVS has been given permission by Saab to use the Saab name on the cars, though it cannot use the Griffin badge nor can NEVS rename itself Saab.

The battery-powered 9-3s are expected to appear later next year and NEVS has outlined plans to launch the model in Europe by exhibiting at the 2015 Frankfurt show.

In the medium term, an all-new car will be launched based on the partially engineered Phoenix platform, which was under development when Saab collapsed in 2011. Sources say Phoenix-based cars are unlikely to appear before 2017.

Our Verdict

Saab 9-3 Sportwagon

Minor tweaks both simplify and improve the 9-3. Likeable, but lagging behind

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Comments
7

20 September 2013

to say that Saab have restarted production. They've built two cars which have different engines and a different body from the ones which will (maybe, perhaps) go into production sometime.

Much as I liked the look of Saabs I never liked them enough to buy one. I think this dragged-out death of the marque is just cruel.

20 September 2013

What is that little round spec on the bonnet, if it isn't a griffin logo badge?

A roundel with the text Saab in it?

Fire an old school diesel engine in one and I'd be interested.

20 September 2013

NEVS aren't allowed to use the Griffin Badge any more as SAAB wouldn't let them.

20 September 2013

... to see Saab back.

20 September 2013

Anyone remember that old soap opera send up TV series called SOAP? I've completely lost the plot with this Swedish version. Let's remind ourselves -

Saab, which was really GM was bought over by Spyker and called Saab. The company went bust, the remnants bought by NEVS who's plan was to build all-electric vehicle. NEVS then started using GM's combustion engine in their all-electric vehicle, which meant the first NEVS car produced was exactly the same as the last SAAB. With one exception... The badge on the bonnet changed, it can still be called a SAAB but NEVS cannot use the SAAB name.

Confused? You will be on the next episode of SOAP!

20 September 2013

Is the proposed new car going to have a lithium-ion-phosphorus battery or should that read lithium-iron-phosphate battery?

maxecat

20 September 2013

It is remarkable how “fresh” the factory looks, after two years of enforced inactivity. It must have been maintained/refurbished very well. I wish them well.

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