Saab says it has a team already on the ground in China working with distributor Pang Da, although it was unable to confirm reports it had also sent engineers to work with potential manufacturing partner Youngman.

The Swedish automaker has to secure a complex series of approvals from the Chinese government in order to proceed with any production, but media speculation in the country is already centering on a possible 150,000 cars being built at the motor city of Tianjin.

“I know for a fact we have people on the ground in China working with Pang Da [to] talk about retail distribution,” a Saab spokeswoman in Sweden told just-auto. I don’t think we would be sitting there doing nothing and waiting for [government] approval – there is a lot of planning and discussion.

“I don’t have any news I could share [about production] – when we are ready to communicate that more we will do so.”

The Saab spokeswoman added any potential manufacture would not start at the earliest before 2013 and would feature the 9-3 model.

Saab also moved quickly to allay fears that new production in China could affect manufacture back in Sweden.

“Part of the deal with Youngman is a joint venture for manufacturing in China, primarily for the Chinese market,” said the Saab spokeswoman. “That does not replace Trollhattan, but it would be an additional manufacturing facility in China.

“The deal is not finalised yet – it has to be approved by the authorities but it is definitely something [we] are working on so we are prepared for when the approvals go through.”