Saab automaker manufacture has unveiled their irst step towards developing an all-electric vehicle at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, it’s 2010 Saab 9-3 ePower concept prototype. Performance of the cars will be evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions as part of the development process for a purpose-built, electric Saab vehicle. Targets to be verified include a projected driving range of approximately 200 kilometers through the use of high density energy storage in lithium-ion battery cells.
The Saab ePower features a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 135 kW (184 PS / 181 hp) electric motor. This enables the wagon to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds, hit a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph), and travel up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a single charge. When the batteries are depleted, they can be recharged with a standard household outlet in less than six hours. While the car won’t go into mass production, a fleet of 70 ePowers will be “evaluated under a variety of real world driving conditions as part of the development process for a purpose-built, electric Saab vehicle.”
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).
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 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 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 about ten years average use. It can be fully recharged from a domestic mains supply in about 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.
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.
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.
Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director, Vehicle Engineering at Saab Automobile said, “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,” and “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 Ake 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.”