Saab’s road to ruin was a long drawn out affair, the company was spun off by GM who were looking to downsize in 2008 and the company managed to stay afloat until mid 2011 by selling off IPR to companies such as Beijing Auto whom recieved the rights to the last generation Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 as well as the gearbox and engines to both. Eventually Saab ran out of money as it was unable to find a perfect suitor to keep the ailing company alive in a high cost country.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), is a consortium backed by Swedish and Chinese business interests, one of the key Chinese investors is the city of Qingdao and their investment arm. Qingdao, as a port city, has major parts manufacturers in the city limits such as TRW, but many of these companies are focused on exporting their products out of China rather than satisfying internal demand. Qingdao is aiming to build the cities automotive capacity by enticing major manufacturers to the area, FAW Liberation Trucks, GM’s Wuling, and Sinotruck have production plants in the area, but passenger car plants do not exist.
Qingdao City has invested SEK 2 billion in the company which will give the city a 22% stake. Qingdao recently gained permission to be one of the few ports in China that is able to accept car imports, which will allow the city to become a direct receiver of electric and conventional cars, with a manufacturing facility being eventually developed within Qingdao.
One problem remains on the horizon: Shen Bao. Shen Bao is the name of Beijing Auto’s own Saab based vehicles which are due to launch later this year, Shen Bao was the semi official name of Saab before they used the Sa-Bo Chinese name prior to their departure from China after a brief dabble in the Shanghai and Beijing markets. NEVS say they have the rights to use the Saab and Sa-bo name in the Chinese market, which may lead to some issues down the line with Beijing Auto.
Qingdao government organizations are currently taking part in the annual People’s Representation Congress where the deal was announced by the city major. The mayor announced that the new project will eventually see a factory capable of producing 400,000 cars per year being created in Qingdao and investment of 1 billion RMB landing in the city, the project will also see the creation of an automotive research and design center in Qingdao along with purchasing facilities and the creation of a sales headquarters.