Driven To Write has some news for anyone who has been reading the UK motoring press.
Far from being “an undiscovered bourne from whom no traveller returns” (copyright W. Shakespeare 1599-1602), it appears death is a place car brands can pop over to and come back from much like an obscure place with an out-of-the-way airport served by Ryanair. I think Saab is dead but it might not be. Or it might be. It died spiritually under GM, it died again physically, was reborn under Spyker but soon expired. National Electric Vehicles revived the firm in 2012.
But according to the Wall Street Journal a key investor at National Electric Vehicles has failed to come up with some promised cash and so the small-scale production of the 9-3 has stopped (for the moment). So, the 9-3 is back six feet under alongside the MG RV-8, Jensen Interceptor, Austin Montego and Rover, those other cars and brands who refused to die just the once.
The very existence of Saab surprised me. Last week while chatting to a Swede at a conference I learned that Saab were in business and making a few cars pending larger scale production. The 9-3 was being sold on-line and the future plans involved making electric cars under the brand name. I am only half-joking when I suggest that re-manufacturing the last non-GM Saab 900 might be a better bet as these cars were built to last and only need a more modern engine to be considered competitive. I am sure a lawyer can find a way around the current rules for crash-protection.
It could very well be a mark of my own titanic ignorance but I am wholly surprised Saab’s factory site is not now a building site for 3, 4 and 5 bedroom executive homes. The Saab story has not been widely reported and it took a trawl down a few pages at Google to find a story from Green Car Reports that test production of an electric 9-3 has begun. Whether this venture goes further is hard to say with conviction unless you’re a seasoned industry analyst which I am not. However, the idea of Saab as an electric car does not distress me and in some ways seems of a piece with Saab’s history of innovation.