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Saab to Introduce 9-3 ePower EV Prototype at Paris Show; Fleet Tests in Sweden in 2011-2012

The 9-3 ePower. Click to enlarge.

Saab Automobile will debut the Saab 9-3 ePower battery-electric vehicle at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The 9-3 ePower is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden early next year.

The performance of the cars will be evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions as part of the development process for a purpose-built, electric Saab vehicle. Targets to be verified include a projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles). Key to the projected longer range of 200 km are the Boston Power battery cells which have an energy storage density greater than the best currently used in EV applications, according to Saab. (Earlier post.) High energy density also contributes to a lower battery pack weight.

The Saab ePower is the first electric vehicle from Saab and is a result of a co-operation between Saab Automobile, Boston Power (batteries), Electroengine in Sweden AB (electric power trains), Innovatum (project management) and Power Circle (Sweden’s electric power industry trade organization). (Earlier post.)

The Saab 9-3 ePower offers its occupants the comfort and size of a wagon bodystyle. Saab engineers have integrated an electrical architecture within the shape and dimensions of a ‘conventional’ 9-3 SportCombi.

A 135 kW/184 hp electric motor drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Instant torque enables zero to 100 km/h acceleration in 8.5 seconds, together with a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).

The 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is accommodated in a modified floor-pan, mainly in space within the car’s wheelbase previously occupied by the exhaust system and fuel tank. This enables an optimum weight distribution and excellent driving dynamics similar to those of a standard SportCombi.

Inside the cabin, a conventional, automatic-style gearshift lever provides selection of ‘drive’, ‘neutral’, ‘park’ and ‘reverse’. The rev-counter, fuel and turbo boost displays in the main instrument cluster are replaced by read-outs for battery status, power consumption and driving range, all illuminated in green. To optimize space, an electric park brake is fitted.

Electro-hydraulic power steering is used and the cabin is equipped with full air conditioning, via a compressor powered by the battery pack. A separate 12-volt battery, for the lights and cabin ancillaries, is also charged from the battery pack via a current transformer.

The operation of the vehicle’s powertrain is controlled by a version of Saab’s own in-house Trionic 8 engine management system, with new software written for an electric vehicle application.

The battery pack is designed to operate with full power in ambient temperatures as low as -30 ºC, at least 10 ºC below the operating level of other battery packs on the market today. Another benefit is the use of air, instead of liquid, cooling which contributes to lower cost and further weight-saving in the pack’s design.

The pack is intended to support re-charge cycles equivalent to about ten years average use. It can be fully recharged from a domestic mains supply in about three to six hours, depending on depletion status.

Test driving experience is expected to validate the performance of this advanced battery pack, which is designed to operate reliably within a full depletion ‘buffer’ set at only 12% of total capacity, a much lower operating margin than used in the management of other packs.

The lithium-ion battery cells are also the first to receive a Nordic Ecolabel accreditation for their environmental safety and sustainability, which includes manufacturing processes.

The 9-3 ePower meets the high crash worthiness standards that Saab applies to all its vehicles. The car’s power pack is located outside the occupant compartment in non-deformable structural zones, well protected and encapsulated. The battery management and monitoring system supports safe performance during normal driving and in crash conditions.

Hundreds of drivers and their families will be enlisted by Saab and its development partners during a extensive test driving and evaluation program involving a 70-strong fleet of Saab 9-3 ePowers in central, west and eastern Sweden during 2011-12.

The Saab ePower project team in Trollhättan will monitor the performance of the cars across a wide variety of usage patterns and driving conditions. To log essential component data, all vehicles will be equipped with aircraft-style, black box recorders.



Better e-range (200 KM), excellent acceleration, speedy and large enough for the majority.

This car already has 40% of the e-range required for long trips. The other 60% will come with normal battery density evolution in the next 5 to 6 years.


15 kW range extender missing.


15 kW range extender missing.

With a 124 mile range this car will handle 95% of your driving needs. For the other 5% you can rent a car or put a genset in a trailer.

Account Deleted

Probably 90% of all EVs will be sold to households that already have a large gasoline vehicle and for those households EVs with 80 to 120 miles range will do just fine.

People who can’t afford more than one vehicle at a time are better off with a general purpose gasoline vehicle. However, the large majority of households in the western world can afford more than two vehicles at a time and these are the prime target for EV makers. For many an ideal combination is to have one large gasoline vehicle in addition to one or two battery electric vehicles. The gasoline car will be used for only 2000 to 3000 miles a year and the EVs will do 10000 to 20000 miles combined. The gasoline car will look good and last 30 years or more used in this way and parked in a garage.

Saab is filling a void spot between the Nissan Leaf at 33k USD and the Tesla model S at 57k USD before incentives. I expect the Saab 9.3 EV will cost about 45k USD in the US in its current configuration. What is also needed is a good small EV prized at 25k USD before incentive in the US. I am looking forward to see Renault Zoe EV to be the first to fill that spot at that price before 2012.


The question is, do people want to pay $30,000 for a second car that has 100 mile range and batteries that will probably need to be replaced at a high price?


"a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden,,,,The performance of the cars will be evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions"

Not necessary. We've been "evaluating" electric vehicles for over 100 years now. They don't do anything new, don't go any farther and still take overnight to fully charge. Don't bother.


EVs will be a big part of our future. When oil demand reaches 100 million barrels per day and supply is 80 million barrels per day, the bidding war will make gasoline cost more and be harder to get. EV owners will be smiling then.


The question is, do people want to pay $30,000 for a second car that has 100 mile range...?

They will when they realize what they're actually doing is turning their current gashog into the second car - the second car that they now don't have to use so much.


....and that same EV will probably have up to 400 Km e-range by 2015/2016. That would meet 98+% of most user requirements.


I had a Catera that needed a fill up every 250 miles. That was a major pain.
A bigger pain was taking it in for warranty repair every 6 weeks for the first 4 yrs.
Honestly, plugging in every night and worrying about tripping over the plug may be a major pain too.
Someday, maybe we can plug in once every 2 weeks or even once a week. Everynight will be a major pain.
A 400 mile range would bring it into the big leagues.


If that's what you consider "major pain" then God help you if you get a paper cut.

Bob Wallace

"Honestly, plugging in every night and worrying about tripping over the plug may be a major pain too."

That's not what people who are test driving EVs report. In fact, they seem to be quite happy with avoiding gas stations and standing around filling ones tank.

Plugging in is minor effort. In the class of checking your mail box and picking up your paper. Even less than picking up your paper if your paper delivery person has bad aim.

Realistically the average US driver averages 33 miles a day so for many it will be necessary to plug in only a couple of times a week, even once for some. And you car will call you/email you if you forget to plug in.


With inductive charging you just park the car and the light comes on. It would be like putting your wireless phone back in its charging cradle.


Good point SJC. A very high percentage of us modern North Americans would find the plug-in concept to complex to manage without extended training. Finding the plug would be too difficult for many. Pushing the plug into the outlet could be a major decision for the majority.

However, children in kinder gardens could probably to a better job and could do it every evening for $2.00 or so. What a world.


I won't buy a car that will only go 200 miles and then need several hours to recharge. If it had a genset and wasn't too expensive (Like the Volt) I might consider it.


We all say that 100 mile range will be enough, but are all of us going to pay $30,000 for these cars? I know I am not. If we are not, then how can we say everyone else will?

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