SAAB successor National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) and DiDi Chuxing, China’s Uber, have signed an agreement to collaborate on making electric cars for DiDi’s highly popular ride-sharing network.
DiDi is technically one of the biggest transportation companies in the world with its app being used by over 400 million users in China.
The company is backed by Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, and even Apple.
Considering its user base is in China and the country is pushing an aggressive zero-emission vehicle mandate, its fleet is expected to inevitably get more electric vehicles.
Apparently, DiDi wants to be proactive in that regard and enlisted the help of NEVS, formerly SAAB until Chinese firms bought their assets out of bankruptcy in 2012 to turn it into an electric car company, to strengthen their EV position.
The two companies will work together to create “an electric vehicle, fully optimized for the mobility services that DiDi is offering.”
Stefan Tilk, President and CEO at NEVS, commented:
“With DiDi actively taking part in the design and development phase, we will make sure that the vehicles will be fully adapted for the needs of our customer”,
But DiDi wants more than 1 million electric vehicles operated on its platform by 2020, which means that they will likely have to add vehicles sooner than they can by developing a new car from the ground up.
That’s where NEVS’ all-electric 9-3 EV comes into play. NEVS says that DiDi will use the updated version of the Saab 9-3 4-door sedan in their cooperation.
Since NEVS launched, its Chinese owners have announced several deals for the company to make massive fleets of electric cars for Chinese companies. NEVS signed a framework deal worth about 8.5 billion crowns ($1 billion) with China Volant Industry Co. (Volinco) for 20,000 electric cars last year and Panda New Energy, a new energy vehicle leasing company in China, ordered 150 000 9-3 Sedan electric vehicles in 2015.
Earlier this year, it received approval to establish production capacity of up to 200,000 electric vehicles per year in China. NEVS said that they expect their car factory in Tianjin to start producing cars by the end of this year.
It looks like their many large customers, now apparently including DiDi, will be fighting for that production capacity.