Just a few weeks ago, we were waxing nostalgic about the long-dead Swedish automaker Saab, and lamenting that fewer and fewer younger people know anything about a brand whose quirky approach to performance inspired millions of loyal fans. Speak of the devil, as they say. Recently, details have surfaced about what, exactly, the former Saab engineers at the brand’s new parent company have been up to for the past few years. It’s a top-secret electric sedan project that has very clear Saab DNA and promising specs—but before we dive in, don’t get your hopes up.
Then again, “Don’t get your hopes up” has been the mantra for Saab loyalists worldwide for about a decade now, so I’m not telling the faithful anything they don’t already know.
Meet the Emily GT project from National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the Chinese-backed company that acquired Saab’s factory, facilities and some of its people following its post-General Motors bankruptcy in 2011. (Check out Rob’s recent story if you need a refresher on the sordid recent history of Saab.) Most recently, NEVS had been owned by a company called Evergrande, a Chinese real-estate giant.
Saab’s acquisition by NEVS made a lot of headlines about 10 years ago, but then things went quiet for a long time. NEVS did spend several years producing electric versions of the old Saab 9-3 for the Chinese market, but only a few hundred were ever made. Most journalists and industry watchers assumed it was a non-starter and would stay that way.
It turns out they had been working on Emily instead.
Details on this project come to us from Swedish motoring publication Carup and Peter Dahl, a veteran former Saab senior engineer and NEVS project leader who posted about it on LinkedIn. The photos and videos come to us from Plint Creative Agency, which seems to have been hired to create some marketing materials for the car.
They say the Emily GT (it’s unclear if the final product would carry that name or not) would be all-electric, put down 480 horsepower with motors at each wheel, and boast a range of 1,000 km—a whopping 621 miles. Now, that’s likely overly optimistic and on Europe’s range calculation cycle, but the point is that Emily’s meant to be a long-distance runner and a very capable corner carver. The Emily GT was even benchmarked against the Porsche Panamera and Taycan sedans. Apparently, Christian von Koenigsegg was impressed with what he saw.
The big advancement is the in-wheel electric motor drive, which has been discussed and researched in various corners but never put into production anywhere. Here’s what Carup says:
The unique in-wheel motor technology brings several advantages, but also some disadvantages to Nevs Emily GT.
”It is a spacious car with a lot of driving pleasure. It is very easy and stable to drive. It has a unique balance between comfort and driving pleasure, but can still be a family car. We had the Porsche Panamera and Porsche Taycan as benchmarks during development”, says Peter Dahl.
The system with four wheel motors provides unique opportunities to control the torque on each wheel, it can even make the car turn without having to turn the steering wheel. An old car feels like a slalom ski, while Nevs Emily GT is described as a carving ski. In addition, the car is more spacious than other electric cars as no drive units steal space.
That exterior design definitely has some Saab DNA—it feels like a plausible evolution of the last Saab 9-5, albeit more streamlined and free of its Buick/Cadillac/Chevrolet big-sedan underpinnings. The concept comes from an unnamed Italian designer.
On the inside, there are some very modern Tesla-esque vibes that are par for the course for EVs: a big tablet screen sits in the center of the dash and buttons are fairly minimal. It’s also very clearly branded as a NEVS car, not a Saab. NEVS lost the rights to the Saab name some years ago and now the brand is fully owned by the fighter jet company.
Dahl told Carup that the project came together in just 10 months (another red flag, if I’m being honest) but that the prototypes were pretty far along. In fact, Carup boldly claims it was a “fully developed electric car,” more or less.
Given how fast Chinese automakers are moving in the EV space, and their big plans for sales in Europe, it seems like a no-brainer for the kind of electric Saab comeback many of us have waited years for. So what the hell happened?
Well, Evergrande hasn’t been the best owner of NEVS, it turns out. It’s also been at the center of a medium-scale financial crisis in China after expanding too quickly (including into stuff like electric car companies) and then crashing out hard. The economic mess around the COVID pandemic made things even worse.
Right now, Evergrande is in the middle of a major restructuring. Earlier, it reduced its investment into NEVS, cut the number of prototypes under development from 20 to just six, and now Dahl says the whole company is in “hibernation mode.” Even NEVS’s former R&D center is being rented out by Polestar, which may be the closest thing we have to a modern equivalent of Saab.
This is actually why we’re getting news about it now—to either find a new owner or, I assume, some kind of other financial backing. “All projects are stopped but are for sale (IP, existing products and tools),” Dahl posted on LinkedIn.
As The Drive pointed out a while back, it’s hard to see Saab AB willing to give up its branding to a car company again, and the lack of that name would kill some of the excitement around this project even if it could come to full series production.
I’m far from optimistic about this one. Anyone with even a passing fondness for Saab has gotten their hopes dashed many times over by now, and this fledgling operation would be up against some very serious heavy hitters in the EV space—not just in China but really globally, now. Maybe this NEVS project will get picked up in some piecemeal fashion. If this team is really onto something with the in-wheel motor technology, that alone could make it a useful acquisition target by some EV manufacturers.
But here we are, back to where we were a decade ago. Saab, or what’s left of it, is back to the drawing board, full of interesting ideas but looking for financial backing. Time truly is a flat circle.
Photos: NEVS, Plint Creative Agency
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As you wrote, ten months is hardly enough to complete a facelift, let alone develop a new platform. Half-cooked as the Emily may be, it had to be devastating to realize that the parent company was in no position to fund this after all. Lot of talent and creativity in Trollhättan, ready to do more. Let’s not forget NEVS bought part of Koenigsegg for a while, so it’s only natural CvK was impressed by their prototype. I see this as an ambitious and equally doomed project that led to yet another Saab-related heartbreak.
NEVS is ok but BAAS is way better. To think I finally sold my 94 900S convertible too.
The fundamental problem is that this is a concept which would have been a decent production car in 2022, and not so much in 2025. Anyone touching this I’m guessing would not be interested in the car at all, but rather the potential unique tech, IP’s and the team behind.
I have a lingering feeling that this story is a carefully orchestrated smoke and mirrors operation. These short movies and the “workshops” and “meetings” is so staged, so I do wonder how real this project really is. Was the Emily GT just based on an existing car? How real is the platform and motors? Is there really any IP’s in this project that could be interesting for potential investors and if so what is it?
I am pretty sure I’ve seen this story before, somewhere…..?
Can we say the in-wheel hub Motors have never been produced? Does Lordstown Motors count even though they barely produce anything?
Other than the button in the console, I am seeing zero “Saab DNA” or resemblance with the older Saab in this. If someone saw that car with no context, I don’t think anyone would say “is that a new Saab?”
It looks pretty sharp and also pretty modern-generic-expensive-EV like a bunch of others.
I mean, the side profile between the NEVS and the SAAB inlayed in the image above does look fairly similar, I agree the face definitely doesn’t scream SAAB, but besides that, what more were later SAABs if not “pretty modern-generic-expensive”?
Aston Martin: “Look, why are you copying our Lagonda Taraf, especially the side profile to the rear and rear three-fourth profile? We are not amused.”
“Key” (button) in the centre console, black panel mode and super low door sills, then it’s a SAAB for me.
Pretty silly and not at all very “SAAB” design idea with the sloping centre armrest, so if you put anything there, it will roll/slide to the back seat area and vanish. Imagine stretching something in your lazy old body because you have to reach for your iPhone, house keys or credit card in some strange invisible place…
-But it looks very cool 😉
Nice name but they lost me at in-wheel-motors.That alone marks them as f***tards.
In the unlikely event they manage to raise capitol they’ll fail soon after from an avalanche of recalls.
IWMs are that dumb
While this isn’t a Saab, and to me it barely carries any resemblance, the overall look isn’t bad but not stunning. Not saying it has to be, but the exterior hits as bland in the era of EVs.
I do like the interior styling, but the tablet hanging in the middle of the dash is, like Teslas, just distracting, poorly placed, and not integrated into the car. If you’re going to shove a tablet in the middle of the dash, make it so I can use my own. I know it’ll never happen, but try.
The one thing that does resonate are what is possibly the last “Saab” trained engineers that designed this. I was always impressed how they could do so much with so little. Safe but fun and quirky, usually well designed.
Personally I hope someone buys them and gives it a shot.
The interior isn’t bad. Gotta love the big red E-Stop button in the middle lol. Sounds like a well developed prototype.
The in wheel motors is interesting, though there have been at least a few suppliers pushing that for a few years now.
That aside, it’s going to take a lot more than just a billion HP and a ton of range to get me excited…unless they’re doing something interesting or achieving it with better efficiency (or lower cost). Feels like the days of celebrating big range numbers just because of more and more kWh should be over though.
I mean, the more the merrier in this space – I’m all for it
It’s giving Lucid Air a little to me. That dashboard sucks, though.
Either way, yeah, I don’t have a lot of hopes for this one. That Evergrande mess is a big one.
God, that depressing interior.
I do not understand how car companies feel okay cheaping out like that by just gluing a couple rectangles to the dash and calling it a day.
I don’t care what your car looks like, the Dollar General Elon Special interior will always be a deal-killer for me.
I’ve always compared a Tesla interior to sitting in a cheap early/mid 2000s Ikea furnished office in some depressing exurban office park. It’s an absolutely miserable experience and why every EV has to benchmark it is a mystery to me…and makes me less inclined to consider the products
Everybody’s benchmarking it because Tesla is the benchmark in the EV space right now, for better or worse (increasingly the latter these days).
That said, I hate it with a passion. “Modern” interior design for cars is awful.
Jayson, my dude, they are operating in “hibernation mode”, down to a handful of designers and engineers, renting out most of their space to their biggest competition, aren’t getting backing from their parent-company, had the amount of prototypes cut to almost a quarter of what they originally were asked to make, and you are harping on the interior quality?!? It’s a miracle any car company with billions more to budget on a car come up with a better, less Tesla-knock-off styling. This is absolutely incredible for any amount of budget, let alone whatever bits of shoestring they could collect off the Trollhättan floor.
The only thing worse than Elon’s Dollar General rectangles interior is the BMW leather everything piano black fake wood seven TVs in the dash interior.
How did piano black get to be considered a premium material? It’s literally just shiny black plastic? Am on crazy pills here?
Looks better than the Lucid.
TheDrive had this story last week. They quote the battery size at 175kW-hr which is Hummer EV territory!! Compare that to a Lucid Air at 120kW-hr. That is a ridiculous waste of lithium and a giant boat-anchor to drag around. This is a stupid design because we do not need to be plundering natural resources for another look-at-me electric land yacht. To paraphrase Taylor Swift:
NEVS never ever ever getting back together.
I present the first 4-wheel drive, motor in wheel passenger car.
Bad link, too old to edit.
Maybe this will work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohner%E2%80%93Porsche
it’s good parsh 🙂
I found this line to be particularly fascinating:
If this technology advances enough, would that mean that eventually, we’d see steering components become obsolete?
It’s just saying it can do torque vectoring, going as far as steering like a skid steer. Steering components would not be obsolete because of tire wear (the skid in skid steer).
No, there are still many advantages to traditional steering, though this is a neat party trick for some specific low-speed situations.
I’m not a fan of the very derivative headlights, or probably the whole front clip for that matter, but I like the rest of the car. Especially the relatively low cowl/hood. Refreshing change from current trends. Hopefully in another ten years when this might go into production they will have got the memo and ditched the stupid tablets.
I also like the Emily name. I hope they don’t translate that into e-63y8PDiii
I will also be interested in how they manage unsprung weight with the in wheel motors.
I think it’s a take on the Saab Catherina, which was the prototype for the Sonett II, and also in line with Volvo giving people names to a lot of their concepts and prototypes (Margarete Rose, Philip, Elisabet I, Jakob)
Time for a mea culpa.
In Rob’s SAAB article a few weeks ago, I commented that SAAB was the “weird but bad to Volvo’s boxy but good.” I then proceeded to shit-talk Saab’s engineering.
Well this week, I impulsively bought a very cheap, very high-mile first-gen 9-5. And after just a few days, I finally get it. I’m a convert.
SAAB: weird, but good.
That’s the spirit
Well this is sad but not unexpected news here.
“and then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
Just the same SAAB is now little more than an unwanted stepchild to the Chinese, which sucks the big one…
Poor (former) SAAB engineers still on the payroll to a Chinese owner, but only as trophies of the Chinese capture of a western company. With no real work to do, I can seem them showing up to work exactly on time every day, only to spend all day sitting around a scientifically designed bong (born from Jets!) and listening to Pink Floyd while doodling engineer doodles.
If you listen carefully you hear them softly singing:
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your (Chinese) home town just don’t sound the same.That LP has to be my favorite of all time though.
As a 30 year Saab owner, I don’t see much, visually, to connect this vehicle to Saab’s past. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. What I do see are design cues very typical of Chinese EVs. The in-wheel motors technology is intriguing for a passenger vehicle (lots of work vehicles have had this for years) and that lines up spiritually with the old Saab willingness to ignore some conventions. However, given Evergrande’s overextended situation, I don’t see see much coming from the concept. I think you knocked it on the head: this is a pitch for new ownership or investment. And no, I don’t think it will ever carry a Saab badge even should it be manufactured.
I dunno. I see a lot of the final 9-5, as well as classic 900, in the rear roof pillar design. And the way the tail lights are set up are a bit reminiscent of a GM900.
I mean, it’s not a Saab, so I get why it’s not styled like one. It has a lot of BYD design cues, especially from the Han, but that’s not a bad thing as that’s a handsome saloon. There is an underlying chunkiness and smoothness that does subconsciously suggest some Saab-ness in the body shape, but regardless of whether it comes to production I think it’s a good thing that Saab cars itself will be consigned to history. As with all good memories, forcing them to happen again sometimes taints the greatness that once was.
I always thought the 9-5 launch, even if the company hadn’t collapsed around it, was backwards. Should’ve been the wagon first – that’s the model that would’ve been the bestseller in Sweden and that the hardcore Saabophiles in America would be waiting for – with the sedan to follow after ramp-up, for a push to a wider audience.
Unless they’re following a “China-first” rather than “Europe-first” strategy the same applies here.