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Saab, Aptera, Think: Can China, Russia Save Electric Cars?

Last week, something miraculous happened: after more than a year of being prepped for burial, Saab rose from the dead.

Of course, there had been previous attempts to revive the quirky car company — notably, one led by Chinese investors Pang Da and Youngman (subsequently, a Chinese bank and Youngman). However, General Motors 86ed those efforts, because even though GM no longer owns Saab, it does own much of Saab’s technology. Given China’s passing acquaintance with intellectual property laws, GM worried that selling Saab to a Chinese conglomerate would be like publishing its trade secrets on Wikipedia.

Saab’s potential new owner is National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, which sounds European but is, in fact, backed by one firm from China (National Modern Energy Holdings, Ltd.) and another from Japan (Sun Investment). To the best of our knowledge, GM hasn’t commented on the proposed deal, but the company may be willing to let it slide for one big reason: the new Saab will be an electric car company.

The deal is still in its very early stages, but reports hint at a reborn car company that will maintain many of the Saab design elements we’ve come to know and love/loathe. Beneath the hood, however, will be an electric car with little if any legacy technology from GM. No GM tech, no GM worries.

If the deal goes through, fans will get their beloved car brand back, electric car junkies will have a new marque to gush over, and GM’s technology will remain protected by American law.


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