The brand formerly known as Saab is still intent on teaching The Little Engine That Could a few ticks about persistence. We say "formerly known" because it turns out that National Electric Vehicle Swedent (NEVS), the Sino-Japanese investment consortium that just bought the majority of Saab's assets, minus Saab Automobile Parts AB, may not actually own the rights to the Saab brand name. According to a report in Di.se via Saabs United, NEVS will need to negotiate with Scania and the Swedish aerospace and defense group, Saab AB, for the right to name its forthcoming electric car the Saab 9-3.

NEVS is hiring 200 engineers now to work on its electric car program, and reports are that it will hire more as it gets closer to the 2014 launch. It will be based on the current (read: ancient) 9-3, and we hope NEVS is succeeds in getting the naming rights, because the NEVS 9-3 just doesn't have the same ring. NEVS will likely target China as the model's main market.

However, it's rumors of their second negotiating ploy that we're really rooting for: to work with Mahinda & Mahindra, the Indian company once in the running for Saab's assets, develop a petrol-powered 9-3 on the next-generation Phoenix platform, based on Jason Castriota's design.

NEVS is also said to be planning new models "based on Japanese technology," yet with just under $1 billion U.S. committed to the electric program, the Di.se report says NEVS wants to have other products to generate revenue. A conventionally powered gasoline-engined car could be the answer. There only connection between Saab AB and Mahindra appears to be that India is one of Saab's largest markets and Mahindra is Indian. Separately, Mahindra could develop the car and provide small, "low carbon output" engines. It's tenuous, which characterizes just about everything that happens with Saab these days, but perhaps NEVS sees it as enough of a lure for everyone involved to make it worth the attempt.

The amount of speculation here makes the chances of a Phoenix-based 9-3 too thin to even call slim, but we won't bet against it, if only because one was quite far along in development under the company's previous owners. And besides, we'd really like to see it happen.


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  • 34 Comments
      chan625
      • 2 Years Ago
      India is one of Saab's largest markets? In whose imagination?!!
        Quixcube
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chan625
        They got it a little wrong. They mean that India is one of the biggest markets for Saab AB (the defense company that makes jets) and that could make it easier to allow Mahindra and Mahindra into the mix. This seems 99.9% pure speculation to most people.
      Andrew Hyzy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always look to this site for information first, and appreciate its perspective. However, grammatical errors can undercut credibility. "It's" = it is; "its" = possessive form of non-human entity. I teach English.
      Classic Bob
      • 2 Years Ago
      Might build cars with Mahindra? C’mon,.. all i’ve heard for the past three years is maybes and mights... Get on with it.. either build it or bury it!
      axordonez
      • 2 Years Ago
      The NEVS push for electric, is not a good attempt to save Saab. NEVS needs to sell SAAB's heritage, not their idealism. The new SAABs need to be more an impulse buy based on SAAB's differentness, quirkiness, and sophistication over the years, and of course, turbo. It's what the public still expects from SAAB. I think if they give the new shortly lived 9-5 a revival, since hopefully the production line still may have much of its 9-5 production jigs, tooling and dyes, just fill in what is missing, but this time, improve SAAB's marketing, I think the new 9-5 could still be the car of Saab's rebirth. And in future history, the new 9-5 has the potential to be seen as the car that saved SAAB after all, not the car that killed SAAB. It's like a soap opera, where someone we all loved, went from glory to failing health in the last few years, almost had a couple of near death experiences, but kept putting on a brave face for the public despite it's organ transplants (GM to Spyker) not working well, as if the body was rejecting them. And then after continuing to fight, poor Saab dies succumbing to internal organ failure. And now, in typical soap opera fashion, SAAB wasn't really dead. SAAB was actually in a coma all this time, even after some of its organs were harvested (some tooling sold off), and just as SAAB was regaining consciousness, poor SAAB was again going into cardiac arrest, and doctors are now getting out the heart defibrillator, and have just shocked the heart twice already. Now standby, again lets get the defibrillator ready to shock (defibrillator charging) .... Next, in tomorrow's episode of SAAB Story, SAAB may come back to life after all, but will become a bionic/electric cyborg, like Robocop. With the help of Indian doctors, as poor SAAB's Japanese father and Chinese mother watch their poor Swedish caucasian son in I.C.U.... Did I get it right so far?...
      T-Mille
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is embarrassing. What is a SAAB without even the option for a turbo? SAAB is dead to me until they make a lineup of proper turbo-powered, fun to drive, unconventional luxury sedans. I'm skeptical of this new venture.
      Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was waiting for Castriota's 9-3 to come to show rooms. Of course had to give up on that. Great design. Back to a hatchback. My old 9-3 hatch was one of my favorite cars. If electric, no thanks. Gas or diesel and I am in.
      Rohit Lanjekar
      • 2 Years Ago
      India is one of Saab's largest markets ......what the hell...i never seen one on indian road........is he on drugs?
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      SAAB is dead, get over it already.
      XEVIOUS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Saab just dont get it!, That shape is ugly!! they cant help but to keep that shape! its wierd, and no-one there can see it!!!!. oh well.
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mahindra? So they'll get, what, 20 miles per gallon?
      telm12345
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does that mean Saab will be back in 2012, wait no, 2013? wait, 2015? Oh no? 2020? Oh, not at all?
      superfortress.fifi
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mahindra?Seriously?
        Gregg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @superfortress.fifi
        Despite their rocky road and bad luck with USA distribution of their passenger vehicles, Mahindra does have the wherewithal, engineers, and global footprint to pull this off, which is why a lot of Saab fanboys were pulling for them to purchase the whole company. For a start, they are a vertically integrated company-- aerospace, computing, real estate, automotive parts-- even their own steel manufacturing facilities-- AFAIK, the only other automaker to claim in-house steel mills is Ford. Mahindra Tractors are the #1 selling tractor worldwide, and are pretty common here in the USA (lest we forget, Ford and Lamborghini make tractors as well)-- meaning that infrastructure, parts warehouses, already exist in North America and indeed globally. As far as auto manufacturing goes, Mahindra owns Ssangyong, the #4 car maker in Korea (which already has a presence in Europe), and between their own brand and Ssangyong, Mahindra has longtime relationships with the likes of Jeep, Suzuki and Mercedes. Synergies with Saab look pretty obvious: Saab diesels were amongst the best in Europe (helping out Mahindra's diesel tech), the North American dealership base would have been (not so much anymore, of course) ready-made to plug in Mahindra and Ssangyong vehicles, and it would have provided ready access for Saab into India and China, 2 of the so-called "BRIC countries" with explosive economic growth and a burgeoning middle and upper class. So despite stumbling in their first attempt in bringing pickup trucks to America, this is a plenty solid outfit. So despite stumbling in their first attempt in bringing pickup trucks to America, this is a plenty solid outfit. Of course... this is all rampant speculation, and the newspaper in question (DI) isn't exactly known for its journalistic accuracy. We shall see. I hope for the best with Saab-- it's hard not to admire their pluck-- and let's face it, an electric-only car company will die a rather slow death without billions in ongoing government subsidies-- but that's another letter for another time.
        dukeisduke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @superfortress.fifi
        FIFI? I love that plane. I can remember going to a CAF airshow in 1971, and the program had a page on FIFI, as they had just acquired her from the Navy at China Lake.
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