With Saab’s introduction of its first electric vehicle, the 9-3 ePower prototype, the company is said to be entering a new era.The new car made its debut today at the Paris Motor Show and comes equipped with an electric unit that produces 135 kW of power (184 hp), powered by a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
A full charge using a standard household outlet can be achieved in less than six hours. The vehicle can be driven for 124 miles (200 km) on a single charge.
It can accelerate from a standstill to 62mph in 8.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h). For now, Saab doesn’t intend to put the 9-3 ePower into production.
Actually, Saab’s fleet of 70 units of this prototype will undergo numerous tests as part of a development program that will create a purpose-built electric Saab car.
The vehicle features a conventional, automatic-style gearshift lever that provides selection of ‘drive', ‘neutral', ‘park' and ‘reverse'.
And instead of rev-counter, fuel and turbo boost displays in the main instrument cluster, the vehicle features read-outs for battery status, power consumption and driving range, that are all illuminated in green. The vehicle is fitted with an electric park brake to optimize space.
Saab has embarked on a momentous task which involves the recruitment of hundreds of ordinary drivers and their family members and Saab development partners to test drive and evaluate a fleet of 70 Saab 9-3 ePowers across Sweden from 2011 to 2012.
Based in Trolhattan, the Saab ePower project team will observe and monitor car performance across a range of driving conditions and vehicle usage. All 70 vehicles have black box recorders to gather data, a device more commonly used in aircrafts.
The intention behind this ambitious project is to design a zero emission, high performance electric motor vehicle. Mats Fagerhag, Executive Director at Saab Automobile, Vehicle Engineering explained to us that the programme is the next stage in the EcoPower Propulsion strategy Saab has been developing.
Fagerhag explained how his company has been rightsizing the engine to use Saab’s turbocharging technology and through BioPower technology they are testing alternative fuel sources such as bio-ethanol.
By the year 2015, Jan Ake Jonsson, CEO of Saab Automobile, anticipates that global sales of electric motor vehicles will reach 500,000. He also shared that Saab wants to have part of this market and that the Saab 9-3 ePower program is “our first step towards [achieving] this.”