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First Electric Saab 9-3 Models Built, Will Go To China Test Fleet

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2014 Saab 9-3 Aero

2014 Saab 9-3 Aero

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National Electric Vehicles Sweden, the Chinese-Swedish company behind the re-launch of Saab, has started production of its first electric Saab models.

The electrically-powered 9-3 sedans are built in Sweden, but the first cars will actually be sold in China.

According to Auto Motor & Sport, NEVS will build 200 electric 9-3s, to be tested in the Chinese state of Qingdao this spring or summer.

Following early trials, the company will then move into larger-scale production in the fall, before Swedish sales begin in 2015. There is no word on sales further afield, as yet.

Range is quoted as 20 "mil"--a Swedish measurement equivalent to 200 kilometers, or around 124 miles. This should increase "as battery development increases".

NEVS already restarted production of the regular 9-3 sedan in December 2013, producing low volumes of the 216-horsepower turbocharged 9-3 Aero. This too is being sold in China, though Swedish customers can also buy the car through the company's website.

Recent years have been long and tortuous for fans of Saab, which has a history of technological innovation and blue sky thinking.

Following several years under General Motors ownership, Saab was sold to boutique car maker Spyker in 2010.

The company went bankrupt in 2011, later bought by NEVS in June 2013--with promises of restarted production at Saab's Trollhättan plant in Sweden and production of electric vehicles, taking Saab in an entirely new direction.

While NEVS is starting slowly, producing just 10 9-3 Aero sedans per week, the company has so far delivered on each of its promises.

An electric car based on an effectively 12-year old sedan is unlikely to be a high seller--but if NEVS can build demand in China, Saab may still have a future. If it does, perhaps some of Saab's pre-bankruptcy plans can finally be realized.

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