Like all the other manufacturers, Saab too is trying to develop their own all-electric platform. And they are taking the first steps with this, the ePower concept based on the Saab 9-3 estate. To be revealed at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, the ePower is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden in early 2011.
The car is co-developed by 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).
It’s powered by a 135 kW/184 hp electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. The motor is backed by powerful 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is accommodated in a modified floor-pan, in the same space that a regular 9-3 houses the exhaust system and fuel tank, so there’s no difference between the cars in terms of space and weigh distribution.
As for the performance, even though it’s yet to be measured in real world, Saab claims zero to 100 km/h acceleration in just 8.5 seconds, and top speed of 150 km/h. Saab 9-3 ePower’s projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers.
The ePower comes with a new version of Saab’s own in-house Trionic 8 engine management system, with new software written for an electric vehicle application. It also has Electro-hydraulic power steering. 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.
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 Saab 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.”