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Saab 9-3 ePower electric car at 2010 Paris show

Published: 24 September 2010

Saab will showcase its electric car ambitions at the 2010 Paris motor show with the new 9-3 ePower. Look out for this badge on future Saabs – it’s the next step from the existing E85 biofueled BioPower models.

The 9-3 ePower is a technical testbed vehicle rather than anything you can go and buy, but the Swedes aim to have an electric car to market in the next few years. Saab is replacing the 9-3 in 2012 and senior executives promise this is the first properly new Saab, rather than the GM-developed 9-5.

So who’s behind the new Saab 9-3 SportWagon ePower?

Saab will have a fleet of 70 electric SportWagon estate vehicles on test in Sweden in 2011. It claims a range of around 120 miles from the 36kWh lithium-ion batteries, which live in the rear where the conventional exhaust and fuel tank would be.

The project is a collaboration between Boston Power (batteries), Electroengine in Sweden AB (electric power trains), Innovatum (project management) and Power Circle (Sweden’s electric power trade body).

What are the vital stats on the battery Saab?

A 181bhp electric motor drives the front wheels and Saab claims 0-62mph in 8.5sec and a top speed of 93mph. Drive anywhere near those figures and you will of course drain the battery and decimate that 120 mile range, however.

The Saab experiment is interesting on several counts. For one, battery cars struggle in cold weather and Saab says its Swedish trials will ensure operation down to -30C. And it’s good to see newly independent Saab tackling the environmental challenge head on with some cutting edge tech.

The Saab boss speaks

Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab CEO, said: ‘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 9-3 ePower programme 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.’

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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