Years ago, many people predicted that Saab was dead and would stay that way. Since then, the automaker has been on a roller coaster journey that included the firing up of production again, only to have it come to a screeching halt once more. Still, Saab and its parent company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) have continued to plod forward, giving some hope of a rebirth.
Automotive blog Motor Authority recently reported that NEVS was given a big break by the Chinese government. Two organizations that are run by the government, plus domestic automaker Dongfeng (also owned by the Chinese government), signed a significant agreement that involves collaborating on future R&D projects.
NEVS and Dongfeng have been working together on developing new cars since July, according to the report. That’s not a horribly surprising development, considering that China is facing horrendous pollution problems and has been pouring significant resources into encouraging its citizens to adopt electric vehicles. The deepening relationship between the two automakers means they’ll be buddying up more on sales and global purchasing efforts.
Like fellow Swedish automaker Volvo, this latest development could mean that Saab suddenly has access to some deep pockets. Not only would it allow the company to finally flesh out a considerable model lineup, which it had been making efforts towards under GM management, but it also will give Saab a big presence in the humongous Chinese market. That kind of an arrangement has been a serious boon for Volvo, which not that long ago was counted as down and out by some in the automotive industry.
To its credit, NEVS has been showing some progress, despite an incredibly difficult financial situation. It has created an all-electric 9-3 prototype that can drive over 120 miles on a single charge. That kind of range would put it above many other electric vehicles on the market today, as long as Saab could get such a vehicle in consumers’ hands before too long.
Oh, and there’s also a pesky legal problem that might mean NEVS doesn’t have any rights to the Saab name, so things are definitely up in the air right now.