Yup, Saab's officially dead. Again

June 22, 2016

The zombie auto brand known as Saab is officially dead. Again.

This may come as some surprise, because apart from one recall, we haven't reported on Saab since 2014. Even the most devoted fans have probably stopped waiting for the Swedish niche brand's return.

But for those still clinging to shreds of hope, let go: the death knell has finally sounded. Saab's current owner says that it won't revive the Saab nameplate and will instead sell cars under the NEVS brand. The last remaining vestige of Saab, its website, now redirects to NEVS, where the announcement was made yesterday. Here's the key bit:

"From today onwards, we are NEVS – both on a company and product level. With that comes a new logo, a new look and a reinstated commitment to, and focus on, electric vehicles and mobility solutions."

What will these "electric vehicles and mobility solutions" look like? We have no idea. Most of the images on NEVS' website seem like stock photos of happy people in office spaces. (And we're pretty sure the cover pic is a factory-standard Mac desktop.)

There's not much talk of cars on the NEVS website either, and what's there seems like an afterthought. Here's the company's "Our Vision" statement:

"We were founded in 2012 with the determination to create change for those around us and for coming generations. Our vision of shaping mobility for a more sustainable future is our north star, guiding everything we do. We don’t believe that you need to compromise quality, safety, performance or comfort to do good. By challenging conventions, we design premium electric vehicles and mobility experiences that are simple, engaging and distinctive, but that also shape a brighter, cleaner future for all. We aim to give people who are curious and passionate about the world a way to express themselves – and invite them to take part in shaping the future of mobility."

Further down that page, NEVS--which is owned by investors in China--lays claim to Saab's 69-year-old heritage, but not the Saab name. Like a self-made, upwardly mobile medieval merchant, NEVS is an upstart that married well, killed its spouse, and kept the house and pedigree.

That said, there will almost certainly be NEVS cars--perhaps as soon as 2018 (two years later than expected). At least four models have been planned around the Phoenix platform that Saab developed but never had the chance to implement before it slid into bankruptcy. 

However, given all the talk of "mobility" on the site, it's obvious that NEVS has seen the writing on the wall. In the future, we wouldn't be surprised if NEVS partnered with UberLyft, China's Didi Chuxing, or perhaps some other ride-sharing/car-sharing start-up, just to hedge its automaking bets.

Clearly, NEVS is more interested in the future than in Saab's past--and given that past, maybe it's for the best.

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