Thursday, March 29, 2012

Could Saab be Revived as a Maker of Electric Vehicles?

Published March 29, 2012

By Huw Evans

While Saab’s bankruptcy last December is still proving hard to swallow among many in the industry, there’s been no shortage of potential suitors looking to revive the Swedish automaker.

Besides Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Group, which narrowly missed acquiring the automaker and is still in talks with Saab’s receivers, an as yet unnamed Sino-Japanese consortium is now also expressing interest.

However, in this case, there’s a bit of an environmental twist. The consortium in question, which reportedly has very deep pockets, plans to revive Saab as a manufacturer of electric vehicles, since it already has a vested interest in battery technology.

In fact according to an unnamed Swedish source, the consortium is very keen on acquiring Saab assets and has likely already tabled a bid.

As for the viability of electric cars, well, it perhaps isn’t as far out as it might seem. As little as a year ago, Saab was still working on electric vehicle programs and indeed had assembled a fleet of some 70 9-3 e-Power models using 135-kw motors (essentially a more powerful version of the UQM unit found in the 2012 Coda sedan) and Boston Power Swing Cell lithium ion batteries (already available as mass produced items).

So, if it the bid does prove successful, there’s every indication we might indeed see e-Power 9-3s or derivatives become a reality. That said, sources in Sweden still remain skeptical about the commercial viability of EVs in the near term, plus there’s still the issue regarding General Motors’ less than enthusiastic stance of allowing Chinese firms to get their hands on technology it originally licensed to Saab; a major factor why the Swedish automaker went bankrupt to begin with.

just-auto via autoblog green


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