Saab, the Swedish executive car-maker, has launched the final stage of a £332 million investment programme at its Trollhattan production plant.

The addition of 21,000 square metres to the floor area of the assembly shop represents the largest extension at the factory since 1958 and will allow a wider range of future models to be built.

The decision to invest more than £70 million in the extension is the fourth major investment at the factory in the last five years. An all-new £95 million paint shop became fully operational last year, an £83 million extension of the body shop commenced earlier this year and new body press lines costing £84 million are being installed.

This follows the completion this year of a £17 million investment in new machinery at Saab's Gothenburg transmission plant, where half the annual output, about 90,000 transmissions, is supplied under contract to General Motors.

The assembly shop extension involves the replacement of one of the two main production lines, allowing more efficient materials handling, greater productivity and improved ergonomics, as well as greater adaptability for building different models.

"These investments are all part of Saab's long-term plan to raise production capacity, broaden its model range and increase sales," said Lars Danielson, Vice President - Vehicle Manufacturing at Saab Automobile.