2014 Saab 9-3 AeroEnlarge Photo
Saab's cars may not have appealed to everyone, but many a gearhead shed a tear when the Swedish automaker went bankrupt back in 2011.
There's just something likeable about Saabs, and the company had a rich heritage that looked destined to cease as the last 9-3s and 9-5s rolled off the line. But the company's assets were subsequently bought by Swedish-Chinese firm NEVS--and 9-3s are once again rolling off the line.
Not normal Green Car Reports subject matter, you might think. But NEVS stands for National Electric Vehicles Sweden--a clue to the company's future product plans.
The first 9-3s to roll off the line aren't a great deal different from those that breathed their last breath back in 2011--familiar-looking four-door sedans with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. A strong unit at the time, though likely outclassed by the rapid development in turbocharged units since then.
More intriguing is that NEVS' revival of Saab's production line is simply a warm-up for an electric version due onto the market next year.
Saab actually explored an electric 9-3 back in 2010, called the 9-3 ePower. There's no word on whether this prototype has influenced the design of the new model, but the concept itself will be returning.
It's less clear whether the model will reach U.S. shores. While production is underway at the famous Trollhättan plant in Sweden, the company's focus is actually the burgeoning Chinese market--and the first electric models will be sold there too.
According to our sister site Motor Authority, NEVS will offer Saabs to Swedish customers though, via a website. Those cars won't be dissimilar to the ones that went off sale a few years back--though NEVS doesn't hold the rights to the old griffin badge, so 9-3s will carry a simplified Saab badge.
Other vehicles, based on the Phoenix platform that spawned the 9-5 sedan released just before the company's bankruptcy, will follow in due course. This should include a new 9-3 and other future Saabs.
There's a long way to go yet, and Saab is by no means out in the clear--but thanks to new owners and a new electric model, Saab at least has another chance at life.