A rebranded Saab at the center of China's green car push
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING (Reuters) - The Swedish automaker once known as Saab has emerged as part of China's push to make electric vehicles a mass-market alternative to petrol cars, after getting a $12 billion order for EVs.
Chinese-owned National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) - the company that acquired Saab's assets, though not its name - said it received an order for 250,000 EVs in December from a little known Chinese company. The size of the deal -- and the sketchy information about the companies involved -- prompted some initial scepticism in the industry over its feasibility.
Yet NEVS is one of a group of Chinese-funded start-ups that aim to capitalize on disruption in the auto industry as governments around the world create regulatory incentives for electric or hybrid vehicles. Beijing has created a range of incentives to both attract technology-oriented firms into the EV sector and get the public to buy them.
NEVS $12 billion order for EV cars came from a Beijing-based start-up called Panda New Energy Co.
Jiang Dalong, a 51-year-old Chinese-born businessman who acquired Saab in 2012, said the deal with Panda New Energy requires little upfront money from the start-up. Panda said it plans to lease the cars for commercial fleets, such as taxis and courier services.
Jiang owns 43 percent of NEVS, based in Trollhattan, Sweden, through his Beijing-based company, National Modern Energy Holdings. The city of Tianjin has a 30-percent stake through Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech Industrial Development Area. The rest is owned by Beijing State Research Information Technology Co and Teamsun Technology Co, an information-technology company.
The Chinese-born, Swedish businessman sold his bio-power generation business in China to help fund and focus on NEVS.
Jiang said he sees a big opportunity for the technology given the enormous policy help Beijing has lined up for it. Continued...