• Sep 17th 2010 at 7:00PM
  • 19

Saab ePower EV Prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

With a projected range of 125 miles and a 0-60 mile per hour acceleration time of less than 8.5 seconds, Saab's first-ever electric vehicle, the 9-3 ePower, brings the automaker into the battery-powered mix with authority. Based on the 9-3 Sport Combi wagon, the Saab 9-3 ePower's cargo-hauling abilities offer versatility that's typically absent in the battery-powered segment.

The 9-3 ePower packs a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack developed by Boston-Power and an electric propulsion system developed by Sweden's Electroengine. The electric goodies come together to output 184-horsepower through a single-speed transmission that propels the ePower to a top speed of 93 mph. This prototype features an electro-hydraulic steering and electrically driven A/C setup. The ePower will make its public debut at the Paris Motor Show later this month and is set to undergo fleet testing next year in Sweden.

Saab chief executive officer, Jan Ake Jonsson, outlined the importance of the ePower program in this way:
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. The 9-3 ePower program is our first step towards developing a potential production vehicle that will deliver the sort of advanced performance our customers expect.
But remember, the last time that Jonsson was prodded about a target release date for Saab's mass-produced EV, he stated, "Everybody is looking at that question. Nobody has an answer. It will take some time."

So, don't expect to see the ePower in showrooms anytime soon. It could be 2016 before Saab readies something of the electric variety for the public. Hit the jump for more info on Saab's first-ever EV. Hat tip to Josh!

[Source: Saab]


Saab 9-3 ePower - Saab's First EV

Saab Automobile is taking its first step towards developing an all-electric vehicle with the Saab 9-3 ePower.
Making its public debut at the Paris Motor Show later this month, the Saab 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 through the use of high density energy storage in lithium-ion battery cells.

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).

Mid-sized sports combi with zero emissions

The Saab 9-3 ePower is the first all-electric car to offer 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.

Under the hood is a 135 kW/184 hp electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Instant torque enables zero to 100 km/h acceleration is just 8.5 seconds, together with a top speed of 150 km/h.

The compact yet powerful 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.

Long driving range with excellent durability

The Saab 9-3 ePower's projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers pushes out the boundaries for current EV performance. Key to its long range are battery cells which have an energy storage density substantially greater than the best currently used in EV applications. High energy density also contributes to a lower battery weight.

The battery pack has a capacity of 35.5 kW/h and is designed to operate with full power in ambient temperatures as low as -30ºC, at least 10ºC below the operating level of other battery packs on the market today. Another key 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. Charging times can be greatly reduced if the voltage of the electrical feed is raised, as there is no limitation on the battery's input capacity.

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 percent of total capacity, a much lower operating margin than used in the management of other packs.

Its 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.

Extensive user trials

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.

"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," says Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director, Vehicle Engineering at Saab Automobile.

"This includes engine rightsizing, which exploits Saab expertise in turbocharging, as well as the use of alternative fuel, such as bio-ethanol through Saab BioPower technology."

Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile's CEO adds: "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,

"The 9-3 ePower program is our first step towards developing a potential production vehicle that will deliver the sort of advanced performance our customers expect. We now look forward to working with our technical partners in developing such a product."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe I am reaching but begining to see a pattern here. The various manufactures have determined that a range of 90 to 120 miles is the place to start to sell cars at a reasonable price although more range is possible. Since EV require less service there is a need to have a reason to upgrade. EV's will be like computers with every few years a increase in range for the same price. As the charging infrastructure grows and we see range increase by say 20 miles each model year we will be able to determine after a few years just what the most cost advantage range is and it will stabilize at that level with a few high range options for special needs cases. My guess is the sweet spot range will be around 250 miles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why is producing an elec. car so hard for corporations? people convert cars to elec. in their garages all the time, yet these companies make it out to be a monumental challenge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because people who convert a car in their garage do not have to comply with a myriad of local and international standards for electrical and mechanical safety, crashworthiness etc.
        Neither do they need to be concerned about reliable function in every possible condition and climate, operability by all kinds of people, how to design the car and what features to include to appeal to target groups, warranty claims or legal action.

        Electric car, ICE car or whatever, doesn't matter. Designing a car is hard period.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What he said.

        Look at the Nissan Leaf. it's 3 times the cost of a base Versa, and aside from a nice interior and more room, it essentially does the same thing; gets 4-5 people around.

        Electric conversions are usually low range, with low safety margins for the batteries ( forget having a cooled or heated pack ), less safe, often don't include AC, and are less functional than a purpose-built EV.

        EV conversions are way, way cool. But they're for enthusiasts, not the average joe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Home converters are happy to create a car with a 40 mile range. People buying a brand new car are not going to pay $15K more for a car with a 40 mile range.

        So they have to make cars that are far better than a typical garage conversion.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I get that people might expect more but to take Specs response. "Home converters are happy to create a car with a 40 mile range. "

        Isn't that exactly the range that is expected for the Volt?


        Middle Way: Your safety margin for the battery makes a lot of sense. Both for the user and the longevity of the battery. I guess the amount of energy it takes to propel a car regardless of fuel type shows just how inefficient driving can be in regards to energy per mile.

        • 5 Years Ago
        good question. because average people are in charge. not the best of the best.
        Bob Lutz who was in charge of the Volt program is so ignorant he thinks global warming is made up.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good looking car (better than the Nissan Leaf)
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Boston Power site shows 180Wh/kg, which is good, but it looks to me as though they are using lithium cobalt technology:

      I wouldn't hold my breath for this one to come out.
        • 5 Years Ago

        "Boston-Power uses cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode. Its battery technology platform is based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic cell design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. Each cell incorporates multiple, independent safety devices located in different areas of the cell. The design of each safety component is optimized independent of the other components, and the distributed location eliminates unwanted interactions between them.

        One of the safety devices is the integrated Current Interrupt Device (CID), which electrically disconnects the cell if internal pressures get too high. In addition, the cell can is constructed from aluminum, supporting a low pressure design which allows safety components to activate earlier, minimizing the chance that the cell will enter thermal runaway. The activation pressure and tolerances of each of the components are designed to prevent inadvertent activation. In addition, there are two vents on the side of the can for redundancy, minimizing the chance of cascading failures in a multi-cell pack."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Did they come up with any magic to prevent thermal runaway issues?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know that designing great looking cars is not something everyone can do. There are not many who can design something as nice looking as an Audi. But somewhere along the line Saab people should have said to themselves, damn we need better designers..
      or a small french revolution among the clueless execs who say that's how they should look.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "great looking cars" are completely subjective. I know a ton of people that like Saab's designs. Same thing with Subaru, there are lots of people that don't like them, but plenty of people that do.

        Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not good...it means *you* don't like it. Maybe if you took the time to consider the opinion of others instead of referring to yours as divine, you wouldn't make such blind statements.
        • 5 Years Ago
        it's of course not completely subjective but some room has to be left for the human equation. not all are comfortable with singular beauty.
        That beauty is a dominant persistent concensus does however support my position and I imagine that improved designs would help keep them out of bankruptcy
      • 5 Years Ago
      From Boston Power website Saab is mentioned with this battery:


      Pretty good volumetric density: 420Wh/L which means that this 35.5 kWh battery is only about 84.5 L size (22.3 US gallons). With air-cooling and supporting structures added probably something like 100L or a bit more. Still quite small package.

      Also operating temperature is great for colder environments: Discharge range -40 to 70°C

      Not bad. Not extremely great, but especially that operating temperature is nice. Apparently it needs to be heated up to -10°C to charge, but it can operate on very cold climate without need to plug in.

      Too bad that they are putting that to the ugliest Saab I have seen.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It seems nice, very well. http://www.lxt-group.com/02/en Lithium-ion Battery
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sounds like a good way to make saab relevant again.

      Saab has always been about being different just for the sake of it. I think this fits the character.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think they would first want to design a car that someone would actually want be seen in. So far that has been elusive to SAAB.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These specs actually look somewhat compelling. Wondering what the price is/would be?
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