Former Saab factory shutdown again

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Owner of former Saab factory, National Electric Vehicle Sweden enacts ‘hibernation plan’ with huge layoffs in bid to dodge bankruptcy.

The former Saab factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, has been put into a “hibernation plan” as owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) scrabbles to avoid bankruptcy.

Of the plant’s 340 employees, 320 will be laid off. NEVS said it has begun negotiations with the appropriate labour unions to provide the impacted staff with support and legal advice.

Interim CEO Nina Selander said: “With great sadness, today we inform you that NEVS will now go under hibernation mode, meaning we will be forced to reduce all costs and suffer from layoffs in all company areas.

“Our decision comes after our owners Evergrande and our investor prospects were unable to finalise negotiations accordingly to our contract.”

NEVS added in a statement that opportunities for its PONS mobility solution – centred on the Sango, a six-seat autonomous-driving pod similar in concept to General Motors’ Cruise Origin – remain but that the company restructure would be permanent.

The move comes as the latest blow to the Evergrande Group’s attempts to enter the automotive industry.

The Chinese real-estate giant has struggled to stoke demand for its vehicles in its home market. Between July and December 2022, it attracted just 324 sales of its Hengchi 5 electric crossover, prompting it to halt mass production, according to a report from Reuters.

The firm has been caught in the grips of a debt crisis over the past two and a half years, sparked by difficulties in the Chinese property sector.

According to a report from Saab Planet, NEVS was sold to a new, yet-to-be-identified owner in January, but the new hibernation order issued by Evergrande suggests this deal may have fallen through.

Saab Planet also reported former CEO Stefan Tilk as saying: “I took my CEO responsibility to complete the deal but was stopped by Evergrande’s top management. Then I said ‘then you can fire me, because I have to save the company’. Then they fired me.”

NEVS was established in 2012 as a continuation of Saab, having acquired the collapsed car maker’s assets in its bankruptcy sale. It began production of the 9-3EV – an electric conversion of the second-generation Saab 9-3 – in 2017 and was purchased by Evergrande in January 2019. That month, NEVS also acquired a 20% stake in hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg for €150 million (AUD$242 million), a trade that has since been reversed.

NEVS’ dormancy leaves Volvo and Polestar as Sweden’s only mainstream car makers, themselves both under Chinese ownership, in the form of Geely.

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