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Newly reborn Saab eyes electric vehicles as path to relevance

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Automotive News reports today that the Saab Auto factory in Trollhattan, Sweden has sprung back to life and is now producing standard gasoline versions of the Saab 9-3 at a rate of approximately two vehicles per day.

The limited production of a 2014 model of the Saab 9-3 represents the company's first push to revive the dormant luxury auto brand. The new model adds 20 horsepower under the hood and the base price for the manual transmission starts at $42,842, while the automatic will start at $44,377.

These gasoline-powered models are the first new Saabs to be built since 2011, but the company's future is heavily focused on developing high tech electric vehicles.

The long road back to production

During the financial crisis of 2009, troubled automaker General Motors put Saab on the chopping block. The division was sold by GM to Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars in early 2010 and continued to operate independently for over a year.

In 2011, the company hit serious financial difficulty due to poor sales and was forced to declare bankruptcy. Saab then reconstituted as a new venture, with heavy investment from Chinese and Japanese backers, named National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB.

The new owners, abbreviated NEVS, have taken nearly 2 years to secure deals with suppliers and distributors in an effort to finally revive Saab.

Electric is the future

NEVS has stated that the firm's primary focus for 2014 will be starting production of an all-electric version of the Saab 9-3 that will be sold primarily in Sweden and China.

The Chinese government has laid out nearly $16 billion worth of subsidies and incentives to aggressively increase adoption of electric vehicles in China, and Saab is hoping to cash in on that trend.

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