New owners of Saab don't get to use the name
National Electric Vehicle Sweden, known as NEVS, bought major assets of the Saab operation in 2012 following former parent Spyker's decision to liquidate the company in December 2011. This not only included the Trollhattan assembly plant in Sweden, but the rights to the Saab 9-3 and the platform of its successor. NEVS built some new 9-3s using leftover parts and powered by the old 2.0-liter turbo engines, with the intent to raise money to produce new electric vehicles for Europe and China – and to use the Saab name.
When General Motors bought all of Saab Automobile in 2000, it used the name under license from the Saab AB. That permission was then passed to Spyker in 2010 and later NEVS, albeit without the griffin logo. But when NEVS sought creditor protection in 2014, Saab AB revoked the naming rights.
Following reorganization, NEVS in August announced a deal with Dongfeng Motor Corp. to develop a new lineup of electric vehicles, which was revealed in December to include five new models by 2018, some assembled in China by 2020 – the first of which being an EV version of the old 9-3. However, Saab AB told Automotive News that discussions have ended regarding the use of the Saab name on these vehicles.
NEVS owner Kai Johan Jiang told a Swedish radio station the company will find a new name to market the cars under when they go on sale. It's similar to what happened to SAIC when it purchased vehicle technology from bankrupt British carmaker MG Rover. While it had the tooling to essentially make the Rover 75, the brand name at the time belonged to BMW and barred SAIC from using it, so the Roewe brand was created in China.
It's unclear why talks broke down and also where NEVS will get a new name (there aren't nicer ways to spell Saab, and it was originally an acronym, anyway). Will Saab AB attach its name to another line of cars? Probably not. What it does mean, however, is that Saab fans have to cling tighter to their old cars now. Perhaps that's for the best.
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