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Saab back on lines after 30 months

2013-12-03 07:46

BACK IN BUSINESS: Saab, its factory shut down for 30 months, has come back to life with the first production Saab 9-3 Aero, a 2.2 turbo, rolling off a production line on December 2, 2013. Image: AP

MALIN RISING

STOKHOLM, Sweden - Two-and-a-half years after Saab ceased production due to financial troubles a new sedan has rolled off an assembly line in Trollhattan, south-west Sweden.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a Hong Kong company that bought the brand out of bankruptcy in September 2012, presented its new 9-3 Aero Sedan as the first in a series of new cars.

The company, also called NEVS, said the first 200 cars would be delivered early in 2013 priced at the equivalent of about R420 000. A 9-3 wagon, a convertible and electric units would follow.

600 EMPLOYEES

Saab shut down production in April 2011 after six decades of building cars as its earlier Dutch owner, Spyker Cars, struggled with financing and filed for bankruptcy in December that year, dealing a huge blow to the town of Trollhattan and the company's 3000 employees.

NEVS now employs around 600 people, including many former Saab employees, and acting president Mattias Bergman said he felt "incredibly happy, proud and humble" that the company has been able to restart production.

Bergman wouldn't give any forecast of how many cars NEVS expected to sell but said the start would be small-scale and production adjusted according to orders. Cars will be sold to the public through the Saab website.

Sports car-maker Spyker bought Saab from General Motors - itself in bankruptcy protection after the financial crisis - in 2010. At that time Saab sales had dwindled to around 27 000 a year from a peak of around 133 000 in 2006.

GM had acquired a 50% stake of Saab in 1989 and gained full ownership in 2000.

The aircraft and defence company with the same name is an independent entity that builds fighter aircraft and weapons systems.
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