Production of the Saab 9-3 has restarted for the second time, only this time the cars are being built in China, feature electric powertrains, and are to be sold under the NEVS brand.
The first NEVS 9-3 rolled off a plant in Tianjin, China on Tuesday, marking an important step in NEVS’s plan to become a leading provider of sustainable mobility services.
NEVS’s plant currently has the capacity for 50,000 cars per year but this is to be lifted to 220,000 cars eventually. The NEVS 9-3 is essentially the former Saab 9-3 with an electric powertrain that NEVS describes as a first-generation design.
The company is developing second- and third-generation electric powertrains with its partners in China. These will feature in subsequent models, one or more of which will be supplied to drivers using Chinese ridesharing service DiDi. DiDi is hoping to have more than 1 million electric cars on its platform by 2020. NEVS and DiDi are also working together on fully self-driving cars.
NEVS also has a $12 billion deal with electric car leasing firm Panda New Energy. Under the agreement, NEVS will supply Panda with 150,000 electric 9-3s between now and 2020. Part of the agreement will also see Panda receive 100,000 additional electric cars from NEVS as well as some related services from companies associated with NEVS.
One of the companies is a joint venture formed by NEVS, DiDi and a company called Global Energy Interconnectivity Corporation. The aim of the joint venture is to provide servicing and charging infrastructure for electric cars.
NEVS’s original plan was to revive Saab, but with its financial difficulties the company lost the rights to the Saab name. NEVS was thrown a lifeline by investors in China and ended up forming its own eponymous brand focused specifically on electric cars and mobility.