Saab owner NEVS Opens Battery Plant in China

Another electric vehicle in an already challenging market? Sales projections show steep rises, though.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden is now making batteries in China for electric buses and cars through its wholly owned subsidiary State Power Group. The owner of the rights to the currently inactive Saab brand name says State Power Group (75%) owns the new company, dubbed National Battery Technology, together with unnamed company management (25%).

NEVS says the batteries are based on Japanese engineering using lithium iron phosphate – LiFePO4 – technology with a claimed energy density of 146 Wh/kg, exceeding the batteries now in use in the fledgling electric vehicle market. The production plant is also supposed to be the main battery supplier for Saab electric vehicles, with the initial model planned for launch in early 2014.

“This is important for NEVS. In only seven months from groundbreaking to start of production, we have built a state-of-the-art battery plant,” said Kai Johan Jiang, owner and CEO of National Modern Energy Holdings, the parent company of Saab car manufacturer NEVS. NEVS is a consortium formed by Japanese, Swedish and Chinese investors.

The latest Saab development comes as Dutch automaker Spyker is suing GM for $3 billion alleging that GM forced Swedish Saab into bankruptcy and then blocked the sale of the company to Chinese investors Zhejiang Youngman, which would have allegedly ensured its survival. Spyker purchased Saab in 2010 from GM for $74 million in cash and $326 million in preferred shares, which GM immediately wrote off.

NEVS is working on a conversion of the Saab 9-3 – first introduced in 1992 – to an electric vehicle. Marketing and sales will be global, with an initial focus on China, projected to be the largest and most important EV market. Development will be conducted between Swedish, Japanese and Chinese engineers, which will make for some interesting meetings.


About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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