Financial News

  • 3 December 2013, 5:16

Saab 9-3 Production Restarted At Swedish Plant

Swedish car maker Saab has restarted production for the first time since before bankruptcy in 2011.

National Electrical Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which is owned by an Asian consortium, said the production line would see the existing Series 9-3 cars emerge from the Stallbacka factory in Trollhattan.

The model has the same exterior and interior design as when production stopped in April 2011 but it has been given an updated navigation system.

MikaelOestlund, a spokesman for NEVS, said: "It's very similar. You can't change or develop very much in a year.

"Our focus has been to get the co-operation up and running with 400 suppliers and ensure the facilities were working."

NEVS purchased Saab's assets from its Dutch owner in June last year.

Production was originally planned to start a week ago and the company has sought to improve quality of the cars.

Businessman and Saab fan Bert Karlsson was reportedly hoping to take delivery of the first car shortly after lunch.

Several thousand of the new cars are set to be shipped to China, where carbon emission restrictions are less rigorous and where it already produces a similar model.

The global financial crisis hit Saab hard, with sales slumping by 79% in five years, down to 27,000 vehicles in 2009.

GM sold Saab, which first made cars in 1947, to Dutch group Spyker in 2010.

NEVS is 22% owned by the Chinese city of Qingdao through the city's investment company.

Since bankruptcy the marque's global dealer has been wound down, making it more difficult to enter international markets.

"We don't want to make promises or forecasts we don't know we can fulfil," Mr Oestlund said.

"We are humble and say we'll start the production volume with low figures and be able to increase over time according to the market's demand."

Experts believe that restarting the production line is to help facilitate the planned launch in January of a debut electric car for NEVS.

When the company purchased Saab last year it said the 9-3 production would aim to be electric, using drive train technology from Japan.