National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has unveiled a pair of electric concept cars based on the last generation of the Saab 9-3. The prototypes will participate in a pilot program that’s set to take place in Tianjin, China.
Seemingly born with at least nine lives, the 9-3 received a nip-and-tuck in its transformation from a Saab to a NEVS. The emblematic three-piece grille is gone, and the front end is now characterized by a gloss black insert and a thin strip of blue trim that connects a pair of swept-back LED headlights. Out back, the modifications are largely limited to new-look lights. Cameras in lieu of mirrors are a reminder that the concept is not quite ready for production yet.
The second prototype is billed as an SUV, but it’s really not. It’s a 9-3X wagon in disguise. It receives the same front end as the 9-3 sedan, and it retains the X’s rugged-looking add-ons, including black plastic cladding over the wheel arches and the rocker panels and a roof rack. It sits a little bit taller than the average station wagon, but calling it an SUV is utterly misleading.
You’ll undoubtedly notice the Saab name is nowhere to be found on either of the 9-3s. That’s because truck manufacturer Scania decided not to let NEVS use the Griffin logo on any of its cars, and the company lost the rights to use the Saab name in 2014.
Photos of the born-again 9-3’s interior haven’t been published yet. However, NEVS promises both concepts are equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot, a highly-efficient cabin air filter, and state-of-the-art smartphone connectivity. A Tesla-style over-the-air updating system allows motorists to download new features without stopping by a service center.
Technical specifications are fabulously vague. All we know at this point is that both cars are fully electric, and they offer about 186 miles (300 kilometers) of driving range.
The pilot program will help NEVS and its local partners gather data on how to operate ride- and car-sharing programs in a big city. 15 million people live in Tianjin, so it certainly fits the bill. If the program is successful, it will likely be expanded to other cities across China and, possibly, around the globe.
The two reincarnated 9-3 models will be launched on the Chinese market next year. NEVS points out it has already received 150,000 orders from various Chinese companies. As of writing, it’s too early to tell whether the model will be re-introduced in Europe or in North America. Production will take place in China, which suggests Saab’s historic Trollhättan factory will remain idle in the foreseeable future.