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).
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.
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 Saab 9-3 ePower’s projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers