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Saab 9-3 ePower is ready for the road

Edward Green |
Saab 9-3 ePower is the prototype of the company's first electric vehicle. After the Paris Motor Show, 70 cars will be taken by hundreds of drivers for the field trials in extreme conditions.

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The performance of the new Saab will be evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions in Sweden as part of the development process of all-electric Saab.

The Saab 9-3 ePower is the first all-electric car to offer its occupants the comfort and size of a wagon body style. 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 powerful 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is placed in a modified floor, mainly in space where the exhaust system and fuel tank were in traditional models. Inside the cabin, a conventional, automatic 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.

The Saab 9-3 ePower's projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometres pushes the boundaries for current EV performance. Key to its long range are battery cells: 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 -30C, at least 10C below the operating level of other batteries on the market today. Another key benefit is the use of air cooling which contributes to lower cost and further weight-saving.

The pack is intended to support recharging during ten years of average use and it can be fully recharged from a domestic mains supply in three to six hours,. 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. Its lithium-ion battery cells are also the first to receive a Nordic Ecolabel for their environmental safety and sustainability, which includes manufacturing processes.

Now, if I could only find out how to get one to the test...