It has been a little while since we’ve heard from Saab. And for many, that is a breath of fresh air. After enduring a back and forth drama that lasted for two years, the story finally culminated in bankruptcy and then a purchase by National Electric Vehicle Sweden. With all that Saab fans have endured, no news is good news, right? Maybe not in this case though.
Hence the name National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the plan was to focus the Saab relaunch around electric vehicles. So far though (save for Tesla) electric vehicle sales haven’t gone too well. The plan was to launch an electric powered next generation 9-3 in 2014.
Someone at the company apparently has decided however, that it makes more sense to appeal to the existing Saab base and generate revenues sooner than that with a gas car. Automotive News Europe has a new report out saying that a 9-3 with an ICE could launch as soon as next year. This isn’t just hearsay either. Company spokesman Mikael Oestlund says “We are evaluating the possibility to start production around next summer of a 9-3 with a traditional powertrain.” Saab’s ability to do so is dependent on the outcome of talks with various suppliers. Right now the company does not have a gasoline engine of its own to power the vehicle. This move seems like a no-brainer to us; so far NEVS hasn’t been very clear about its plans for Saab.
From a business perspective, producing a gas-powered version makes the most sense. First of all, it will most likely sell far better, and secondly it would speed up the reintroduction of the Saab brand. Thirdly, it would generate revenue in 2013. With no product to sell, NEVS is losing money every day on research and development costs. The new 9-3 is much awaited by Saab enthusiasts. Based on the Phoenix platform, the new 9-3 represents a continuation of the development work done under Spyker’s ownership. Like the previous car, the new 9-3 will be built at the Trollhattan factory in Sweden. Now the only question is where this car will be sold…and through what dealer network. Saab’s dealer network in the United States has largely dissipated, so it will be interesting to see how NEVS goes about a U.S. relaunch, if there is one at all.