National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) says it is looking to hire up to 100 more staff at the start of next year as it gradually ramps up production, but is steering clear of revealing volume or break-even targets.

The Trollhättan-based company began production yesterday (2 December) of its Saab 9-3 Aero sedan based on a petrol powertrain, with an electric version to follow in 2014.

"We are able to gradually [increase staff] and we are in the middle of a recruiting process that gives us the possibility to hire 100 more people - mainly blue collar workers - to increase production volume," a NEVS spokesman told just-auto from Trollhättan.

"We do not present figures about our business plans when it comes to prognosis about volume and when we plan to break even.

Initial price for the 9-3 sedan will be SEK279,000 (US$42,600) and although NEVS was not immediately available to confirm if this cost was different from the previous incarnation, reports in Sweden speculate this is around 10% lower than before.

The automaker is also still finalising contracts with a further 100 suppliers in addition to the 400 with whom it has now inked deals, as the more complex work involved with manufacturing envisaged convertible and wagon models comes on stream.

That supply chain is currently being slowly tested with an initial production run of ten models per week as the manufacturer looks to assess its processes.

"The reason [ten models] is we want to secure the supply chain," said the NEVS spokesman. "We know the quality of production, but we want to secure that over time, that is the reason we start in a modest way.

"As we started from nothing, it is wise to start in a humble pace."

NEVS is 78% owned by NME Holdings, founded in 2004 by main proprietor, Kai Johan Jiang, with the company in turn the owner of Beijing-based State Power Group, involved in clean energy development in China.

The City of Qingdao also owns 22% of NEVS through its subsidiary, Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co. As production at the Trollhättan plant reaches its capacity, a complementary manufacturing facility will gradually be established in Qingdao.

The city has ordered a pilot fleet of 200 EVs for spring next year, with the 9-3 version initially sold in China, but NEVS aims to also sell some models in Sweden next year.

"China has signed an order for a pilot fleet initially that is for the EV - it is Qingdao city," said the NEVS spokesman.

"I think we will see EVs in Sweden next year - over time we will look to introduce the EV for Swedish and other markets."

Service and parts distribution will be carried out by newly-named Orio, formerly Saab Automobile Parts.

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