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). 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.
Under the bonnet is a 184 hp electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Instant torque enables zero to 62 mph acceleration in 8.5 seconds, together with a top speed of 93 mph.
The compact yet powerful 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is accommodated in a modified floor-pan, in a space occupied by the exhaust system and fuel tank on the standard 9-3 SportWagon. This allows for optimum weight distribution and excellent driving dynamics similar to those of a standard SportWagon.
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 Saab 9-3 ePower's projected driving range is approximately 124 miles. Key to its long range are battery cells which have an energy storage density. 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 most 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 10 years average use. It can be fully recharged from a domestic mains supply in 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.
Hundreds of drivers and their families will be enlisted by Saab and its development partners during an extensive test driving and evaluation programme 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.