Blast from the past: SAAB is back, new NEVS 9-3 out in 2018

Blast from the past: SAAB is back, new NEVS 9-3 out in 2018

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NEVS-9-3EV

In 2012 SAAB, the failed Swedish vehicle manufacturer was acquired by a group of Chinese shareholders and rebranded as NATIONAL ELECTRIC VEHICLES SWEDEN (NEVS). Now, five years later, the company is finally unveiling a concept if its much anticipated electric vehicle. NEVS had its fair share of troubles and ran into financial difficulty due to nonperforming partners. India‘s industrial giant, Mahindra and Mahindra owned a majority stake at some stage during the past five years as the company tried various financing structures.

Nonetheless, NEVS prevailed and is one of only fourteen EV manufacturers in China authorized to produce electric vehicles after receiving a production certificate for a 200,000 unit plant in January 2017. NEVS home city of Tianjin is a shareholder in the company through the municipal investment fund.

NEVS announced today that it will unveil a concept of the NEVS 9-3 EV at the upcoming CES Asia in Shanghai to be held from the 7th to 9th of June 2017 and that the production version is expected in 2018, a year later than expected. In 2016 NEVS announced that it sold 20,000 units to state aerospace company, Volinco over a three-year period starting from 2017. NEVS also announced in 2016 that it would supply 150,000 NEVS 9-3’s to Panda New Energy, a JV between go-cart producer Kandi Technologies and Geely.

NEVS also unveiled an SUV targeted at the fast growing segment in China, the NEVS 9-3X SUV Concept. Electric Vehicle watchers and consumers will be disappointed to notice that the shape and style of the NEVS 9-3 and 9-3X SUV changed very little from the earlier SAAB 9-3.

nevs timeline

NEVS further announced that it would introduce the NEVS 9-3 EV in a pilot program with the support of the Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech Industrial Development Area (THT) in its hometown. The pilot program offers car-sharing and ride-hailing solutions in Tianjin, a city with 15 million inhabitants. The users will get access to all NEVS 9-3 EV series, but the company did not say how many NEVS 9-3 vehicles would form part of the pilot, elaborate on how the pilot will work or when it will commence.

NEVS released the following features of the NEVS 9-3 series in in press release today:

  • The new NEVS 9-3 series offer a high level of smart technology to enhance the in-car experience, such as WiFi hotspot, over-the-air software updates and battery management by smart-phone.
  • The new NEVS 9-3 series also offers a world-class filter of cabin air, “Always Clean Air Cabin” (ACAC), with a filter efficiency up to 99%. It takes less than a minute to reduce the hazardous particle levels for PM 2.5 from 500 to 50 µg/m3.
  • The new NEVS 9-3 series are based on more than 70 years of Saab Automobile engineering experience. This is mirrored by the outstanding driving and riding experience through a low center of gravity with smart suspension geometry and tuning.
  • The Swedish heritage showed in both design, high safety, and quality standards.
  • The new NEVS 9-3 series has already passed through rigorous comfort, ride and handling testing and will be launched to the market during 2018.
  • There are already more than 150’000 9-3 vehicles ordered, from different Chinese companies
  • The fleet management portal makes it possible to track and diagnose cars on the road in the distance, which will significantly enhance both the drivers’ and passengers’ safety and health.
  • 300 km range
  • Prepared for mobility services:
    • Digital Car-key in smart-phone App
    • Fleet-Management Portal
    • Vehicle-control by smartphone
    • The new NEVS 9-3 series EVs will be built in NEVS’ China factories.

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Sneak peek of the Skoda Vision E’s futuristic interior

Sneak peek of the Skoda Vision E’s futuristic interior

The Czech automaker today gave a further glimpse into its Vision E Concept, the platform it intends to use for its electric vehicle strategy available for production in 2020. The automaker released details and artist impressions of the Skoda Vision E’s futuristic interior, called “Simply Clever.”

The Vision E’s interior sports four elevated shell-shaped chairs with the ability to electronically rotate up to 20 degrees. The cabin is spacious and modern with no middle tunnel, due to its battery powered drive train. The cockpit has various screens for the driver and passengers to operate the functions and services of Skoda Connect. Each occupant can charge his or her smartphone and connect individually to the entertainment system of the electric vehicle. Ten lighting variations provide ambient lighting through strips in the door and below the dashboard.

Access is gained through electronically operated counter-opening doors, very much like the BMW i3. From wattEV2Buy’s experience test driving the BMW i3, counter opening doors looks cool but is very impractical. Hopefully, the rotating chairs will make access easier, but it does not solve getting in the car in a parking bay, especially if it’s the driver and rear passenger. The Skoda Vision E also sports ample storage in its boot.

Skoda’s CEO, Bernhard Maier, announced at the unveiling that the company’s aim is to have electric vehicles as 25% of its model lineup by 2025. The Vision E will officially be unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show, to be held from 19 to 28 April.

Skoda Vision E interior