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.