Saab's main blue collar union says it would be "wise" for new owners, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) to also evaluate petrol or diesel powertrains for the 9-3 model as well as the planned electric version.

IF Metall clearly has a vested interest in seeing many of its members rehired following Saab's bankruptcy late last year, with NEVS mulling the possibility of starting its recruitment earlier than thought, potentially this winter, if new powertrains become a reality.

"We have not heard anything yet [but] I really think that [petrol/diesel] would be wise," IF Metall legal adviser, Darko Davidovic, told just-auto.

"Because to start a new Saab with only electric cars - from my point of view you have really great car manufacturers like BMW and Opel and no-one could make money through just making fully electric cars."

NEVS has previously insisted on an EV-based business plan, but strong demand from potential future customers now appears to have raised the possibility of a petrol or diesel powertrain for the existing 9-3 model that could come to fruition as early as next summer.

IF Metall representatives travelled to China recently to meet NEVS and pronounced themselves impressed by the speed at which the company has built a new battery factory to power the Saab 9-3 electric model.

Any early hiring of workers at NEVS would come as a welcome boost to Saab's hometown of Trollhattan, which saw mass redundancies following the automaker's bankruptcy.

Export-led Sweden, formally more resistant to the general European economic malaise, now also appears to be feeling the chill wind of recession sweeping the Continent with automotive redundancies.

"There are a lot of lay-offs now in the auto business," said Davidovic. "Volvo is having lay-offs and of course the suppliers.

"To be frank, the industry is showing weakness now. This is not a Swedish problem because most of our industry is export. So of course, if the other countries are not buying it will make [an] impact on our companies."