Saab 9-3 ePower -- Paris Auto Show

By Editors on September 20, 2010 8:15 AM

Making its first venture into the world of electric vehicles, Saab will present an EV prototype in Paris that execs say will lay the groundwork for its future zero-emissions efforts. Created in concert with Boston Power (batteries), Electroengine in Sweden AB (electric power trains), Innovatum (project management) and Power Circle (Sweden's electric power industry trade organization), the Saab 9-3 ePower will hit the road starting next year, when a fleet of 70 vehicles begin evaluation trials in Sweden. According to Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile's CEO: "By 2015, annual global sales of electric vehicles are expected to reach 500,000 units and Saab is determined to be represented in this important, growing segment."

"This program is designed to evaluate the potential for developing a high performance, zero emission electric vehicle and is an important next-step in the extension of our EcoPower propulsion strategy," noted Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director, Vehicle Engineering at Saab Automobile. To that end, the Saab 9-3 ePower is fitted with a 184 horsepower electric motor/generator energized by a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack securely positioned in its modified floorpan. Backed by a single-speed transmission that sends motive force to the front wheels, this zero-emissions version of Saab's 9-3 SportCombi can travel up to 124 miles on a single charge, hit 60 mph in less than 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 93 mph.

In addition to the array of energy saving/regenerating systems that are part of all modern EV formulas, the powertrain in this ecologically overachieving Saab is controlled by a specially modified version of the automaker's propriatery Trionic 8 engine-management system, with custom software written specifically for an electric vehicle application. Although it employs air rather than liquid cooling, Saab says the car's advanced battery pack is designed to deliver full power in ambient temperatures as low as -30ºC -- which is at least 10ºC below the operating level of other battery packs on the market today - can operate reliably down to a mere 12 percent of total capacity -- a much lower margin than any other current battery -- and has a projected service life of at least 10 years. It's also the first battery pack to receive a Nordic Ecolabel accreditation for environmental safety and sustainability.