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Saab Automobile Is Poised to Resume Production

By John D. Stoll  From WSJ.comDecember 02, 2013

The new owners of Swedish car maker Saab, which was once part of General Motors Co.  , will attempt to get the storied automobile brand back on the road with a plan to start building a petrol-powered sedan in "modest" volumes starting Monday, a spokesman said.

Mikael Östlund, a spokesman for National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, said Friday the company will begin building the 9-3 sedan, a model that was already in production when GM and then Spyker, owned Saab. He said more details about production, sales and markets will be given at a launch event Monday.

The cars will be built in Trollhättan, a city located on Sweden's west coast where a Saab factory has long been located. The factory has about 600 employees, including full-time production workers and consultants, Mr. Östlund said.

NEV will build electric versions of the 9-3 next year. China and Sweden are two destination markets for the vehicle.

NEV is owned by China's National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd. and the Chinese city of Qingdao. It purchased Saab's assets out of bankruptcy last year and began negotiating with the company's components suppliers to establish a manufacturing network. Mr. Östlund said 400 so-called Tier-1 suppliers are involved in producing parts for the 9-3.

Saab has a long history in the car business, founded decades ago by airplane engineers. Saab, along with Swedish peer Volvo Car Corp., became the foundation of a Swedish auto industry.

In the late 1980s, GM began purchasing pieces of Saab and eventually held full ownership. When GM went bankrupt in 2009, Saab was discontinued. Spyker, a Dutch company, tried to rescue the iconic brand, but failed.

Saab's owners have an uphill battle in trying to restart the company. The 9-3 model will compete against vehicles that have much newer technology and against car makers that have access to more capital.


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