Remember Saab? Of course, the slightly left-of-centre Swedish automaker that withered and died under GM’s control before being sold off to National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) and undergoing a series of false-starts on its road to redemption.
NEVS is confident that this time things will turn out better, and has rolled out its latest version of the born-again Saab 9-3, this time called the NEVS 9-3 (NEVS lost the rights to the Saab name in 2014) and powered by a fully-electric powertrain.
Eagle eyed Saab-spotters will note that at its core the ‘new’ 9-3 is little more than a facelifted version of the second-generation Saab car that debuted in 2003, based on GM’s retired Epsilon underpinnings, and notorious for its portly kerb weight, which is not ideal for a frugal EV then.
Despite the near-vintage bodywork, NEVS has gone all out on the tech front, providing the 9-3 EV as the basis for a new car sharing program to kick off in the city of Tianjin, China.
NEVS claims a 300 kilometre range for the 9-3 EV, but doesn’t mention the battery type or capacity. Despite this, the company claims to hold a rather staggering 150,000 pre-orders from various Chinese companies.
As part of a mobility services platform, the NEVS 9-3 EV will be equipped with over-the-air software update abilities, WiFi hotspots for users, and smartphone enabled battery management.
Fleet managers will be able to remotely track and monitor vehicles, and users will gain access to vehicles via a digital car key accessed through NEVS’ app. NEVS also boasts an Always Clean Air Cabin filter system for the health and wellbeing of occupants that can drastically reduce hazardous particle levels in under one minute.
Obviously aware of the 9-3’s dog-eared appearance, NEVS describes “heritage shown in both design, high safety and quality standards” which could be a worrying admission that vehicles adhere to early noughties standards.
Both the 9-3 sedan and 9-3X crossover wagon will form part of the renewed 9-3 EV range, with updated front and rear styling giving the pair a fresher, less Saab-like look.