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Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype

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On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 3:03PM | By: Chris Weiss

Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype

A short eight months ago, Saab was on the brink of extinction. GM didn't want it. The greater auto market wasn't exactly rolling in dough and financing deals to take it off of GM's hands. And proposed bids were falling through like finely shaved sawdust in a large collander. In fact, Saab straits were so dire that GM even began to wind the company down.

Then an unlikely hero emerged and swept Saab from the arms of the reaper. Spyker, a Dutch company known for aero-inspired supercars, succeeded in its bid to take Saab off of GM's hands. Usually, it's an established, mainstream brand name buying up an exotic supercar brand, but in this case it was the reverse.

Now that production on Saab 9-5 models is underway, and life is back to normal in Trollhattan, Saab is ready to look toward the future. The company announced an electric vehicle that it's calling "‘the first practical family estate with all-electric propulsion."

The 9-3 ePower, as it's called, is a small, five-door wagon based on the 9-3 SportCombi that is powered by front-driving 184-hp electric motor and single-speed transmission. Electricity comes from a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted where the fuel tank would usually sit. Saab claims its prototype is capable of an impressive 124-mile range.

Since the electric is coming out of frigid Scandanavian lands, battery manufacturer Boston Electric spent time designing a lithium-ion set-up that is fully functional in temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Saab, that is 18 degrees lower than the average li-ion pack is good for. The pack charges in about six hours from a 220V outlet.

Performance for the 9-3 Power is given at 8.5 seconds to 62 mph and 93 mph worth of total speed.

Saab plans to build a fleet of 70 ePower prototypes for testing in Sweden between now and 2012. The company has no plans of moving the EV to production, instead using its platform as the basis of the next iterations of the 9-3 and 9-5. Of course, with the experience it gains in designing and testing the prototypes, it wouldn't be surprising to see a production Saab EV sometime within the next few years.

Like so many new cars and concepts of interest, the Saab 9-3 ePower will make its world debut at the Paris Motor Show in a couple weeks.

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