Bankrupt Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile has been bought by a Chinese-Japanese investment group and will be turned into a manufacturer of electric vehicles focused on the Asian markets.
The news comes after months of speculation about possible buyers after the struggling automaker declared bankruptcy in December, just two years after its former owner general Motors sold the company to Dutch group Spyker in 2010.
The buyer is National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a new company owned by Hong Kong-based alternative energy group National Modern Energy Holdings and Japanese investment firm Sun Investment. The price of the deal was not disclosed.
The Asian-owned group said that Saab’s first new car would be a modified electric version of the Saab 9-3. It will be ready in early 2014 and sales will initially be focused on the Chinese market.
Kai Johan Jiang, the main owner of National Modern Energy Holdings, said: “The Chinese can increasingly afford cars; however, the global oil supply would not suffice if they all buy petroleum fuelled vehicles. Chinese customers demand a premium electric vehicle, which we will be able to offer.”
Saab’s administrators said: “From the outset, it has been our ambition to find a comprehensive solution by the summer, so we are very pleased today, having reached this agreement.”
Saab has struggled to turn a profit for 20 years and has suffered particularly since the financial crisis. The group recorded deliveries of 133,000 units in 2006 but sold just 31,700 vehicles in 2010. Even so, the Saab administrators said that about 10 groups had shown interest in buying the company.