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Saab focuses on China as production of 9-3 sedan restarts

Executives from Sweden and China pose with a Saab 9-3 today in Trollhattan, Sweden. Photo credit: Reuters

Saab's new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, today started series production of the 9-3 mid-sized sedan at its plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. Sales of the vehicle will be ''initially focused'' in China, the company said in a statement.

NEVS says production of its first Saab model, the 9-3 Aero sedan fitted with a 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine, will be ''very modest'' with output initially seen as about 10 cars a week.

The company said a small number of vehicles will be sold directly to Swedish customers via its Web site starting next week. The car, which resembles the last production 9-3 built at Trollhattan in 2011, will start at 279,000 SEK ($42,600), NEVS said.

"It is truly a complex mission to start a car production process which has been still for two and a half years. It is very pleasing that we have embarked on a journey where we want to and will make a difference with our partners and customers,'' Mattias Bergman, NEVS president, said in the statement.

The last cars produced by the automaker rolled off the production line in April 2011. Saab, then under the control of Spyker, filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 19 of that year. NEVS bought Saab out of bankruptcy last August.

The production start became possible after NEVS reached an agreement with 400 parts suppliers to produce the sedan, the company said.

Service and parts distribution for the vehicles will be provided in partnership with Orio, formerly known as Saab Automotive Parts, NEVs added.

The company says it plans to begin production of an electric variant of the 9-3 in 2014, with China as its first market.

Phoenix-based cars

NEVS previously said it plans to build cars based on the Phoenix architecture developed by Saab before the automaker's bankruptcy. The company needed to modify the platform to remove the 20 percent of parts sourced from former owner General Motors.

NEVS is owned by Hong Kong National Modern Energy Holdings, which is run by Swedish-Chinese green energy entrepreneur Kai Johan Jiang. NEVS is 22 percent owned by the Chinese city of Qingdao following a deal earlier this year.

You can reach David Jolley at

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