November 20, 2012 / 4:00 PM / 5 years ago

Saab buyer may relaunch 9-3 model

STOCKHOLM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The buyer of bankrupt Swedish automaker Saab is eyeing a possible relaunch of the brand’s 9-3 model with a conventional engine ahead of the launch of its first electric car.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden, which bought Saab assets earlier this year and plans to launch its first electric car in 2014, said it had sounded out suppliers about making a gasoline-powered car next year.

“We have not taken any decisions yet, but we are evaluating the possibility,” NEVS spokesman Mikael Ostlund said on Tuesday.

“If it is possible for the suppliers to deliver parts that allow production to begin next summer of the existing 9-3 with a traditional powertrain we think there is a market for it.”

Saab, which had made cars since 1947, went into bankruptcy at the end of 2011, less than two years after General Motors sold it to Dutch sportscar group Spyker.

NEVS, owned by National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd whose founder and principal owner is Chinese-Swedish businessman Kai Johan Jiang, later bought most of Saab’s assets with the intention of making electric vehicles based on the group’s cars.

Production of a conventional 9-3 would not affect plans for the launch of a 9-3 with an electric engine nor the subsequent launch of an electric vehicle based on Saab’s Phoenix platform, Ostlund said.

“As we see it, there is a demand that we can meet. We can begin recruiting (staff) earlier than we had planned. We can also use the plant to a greater extent than previously planned while it generates an inflow of revenues,” he said. (Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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