First Drive: Saab 9-3 EV

2 years ago by Jay Cole 18

While NEVS, parent of Saab continues to work through its financing issues to bring the first all-electric Swedish car to market, our friends at Elbilen i Sverige (a prominent EV magazine in the country) have had the first opportunity to drive the prototype 9-3 electric vehicle.

We our happy to present that first drive review here (translated to English as best we can).  Our thanks to Fredrik Sandberg, who is editor-in-chief at the magazine and Örjan Hedblom.

Saab 9-3 EV Hits The Track

Saab 9-3 EV Hits The Track

Our electric car magazine in Sweden was the first newspaper in Sweden to have the opportunity to test drive the electric Saab 9-3 in Trollhättan on September 3rd.

On a glorious late summer day, with weather of 21 C on the temperature gauge in the car, I came to the big factory located at Stallbacka we Göta River and Lake Vanern County.   I arrived in a burgundy Tesla S, the beast amongst electric cars and all entusiast’s wet dream. Now I have the chance to compare the two electric cars. But the comparison limps away, as the Tesla S is sold worldwide since more than a year while 9-3 EV is a prototype. But both cars are future-oriented and driven fossil-free, no exhaust and carbon emissions.

I will meet Mikael Östlund (PR) and project manager for Saab electric cars, Anders Björnbergat at the main entrance of Communications. There is also the black beauty on charge.  The building is reflected in the cars shiny and gleaming bodywork. Soon I’ll sit behind the wheel.

A Peak Under The Hood

A Peak Under The Hood

The technology of the new Saab 9-3 EV

Before test driving the car, Anders states the drivetrain comes from American AC Propulsion in California, as well as motor, inverter and the entire electronics package. The engine is 150 kW but limited to 100 kW and 140 hp. It is being worked on adapting the car to the higher power.

In the production version, it will be a different powertrain. The prototype has an air-cooled system for both battery and engine, serial production will be water-cooled. Brake reversal that gives energy to the battery remains to be developed.

The proprietary battery of the 37 kWh prototype comes with a higher output version of the series, says Anders, not bigger but packed more tightly. Here Saab / NEVS has a great advantage – the battery is manufactured by principal owner Kai Johan Jiang Annual National Modern Energy Holdings in China. It is aiming for a reach of over 30 million.

Gear compilation is as usual PRND, parking, reverse, neutral and drive, with snaps. The gear lever in the 9-3 Aero did not work. In the finished version, it will be a different system altogether. The dashboard will be adapted to electric drive, with meters on consumption, range, reversal of energy and so on, the job remains to be done.

In Orio AB, formerly Saab Parts, the aftermarket company, occurs together with diagnostic tools, spare parts, training of staff in workshops and documentation.

Prototype Dash Cluster

Prototype Dash Cluster

Now to the actual test run!

We make for the 2.3 km long velodrombanan behind the main building.  Anders drives the first few laps before I take over the wheel. The course begins with two sharp curves limited to 70 km / h then follows a long straight followed closely by the velodrome with steeply inclined road. Here you can run at 120 km / h the whole way. The start is dramatic, but very tough.

Anders says that drag mode is not fully developed, but once it is up to speed, it goes fast. I can, of course hit 120 km (74 mph) on the straight, but on the first lap in the velodrome it will be barely achieve 120, but on lap two, it is better, then I think as the momentum is kept higher.

The car is very quiet, and  here I can make a direct comparison with the Tesla; the  Saab car is much quieter at all speeds.  Almost no road noise is heard, only a slight murmur. Tesla is clearly more vocal because of högfartsdäcken (sorry we can’t figure out the translate for this word…bit it sounds cool so lets leave it as is). This Saab has regular tires, no special low-friction tires, but it will be understood in the serial version.

The brakes are well adjusted. Deceleration progresses very smoothly. After some of which around the track, it is really fun to draw on, the car responds nicely after the first “toughness.” The 1800 kg (3,970 lbs) heavy car does 0-100 (62 mph) in 10.0 seconds. The goal is to reach 8.5 seconds, says Anders. When we stopped the car, the fan that cools the battery and engine is at full speed.

The 9-3 EV has come a long way in the development to the finished car. A lot of jobs åsterstår (nope..sorry), but it feels like the car can become something big. The car drives steady, responds very well to all the maneuvers and braking. Despite the lack of money and production stoppages in progress development of the car in full,  we keep our fingers crossed that the problems with the economy will be solved as soon as possible.

I hope that’s not wishful thinking, but the car has to be ready for production in the near future. Clearly, however, it will not be this year. 9-3 EV can definitely be something big.

Let's Do This Thing!

Let’s Do This Thing!

Range of 30 mil leads to success

It circulates a lot of rumors that General Motors is coming out with a 200 mile-car. That is a car with more than 30 mil range. While Nissan will be in the starting blocks for such a model. It is the next generation of electric cars, which will definitely broaden the market.

Now confirms Saab electric car in Sweden that’s where they are aiming for (30 mil) as well. The battery pack in the Saab is in the current situation 37 kWh, but there’s room for more, according to Mikael Östlund at Nevs.

Editor’s note:  As a point of interest, a mil is a common unit of measure used in Sweden.  A mil is 10 km, therefore 30 mil is 186 miles.  /the more you know

– Interior and luggage is intact, Saab has built up the batteries under the back seat, and where the fuel tank used to be, and between the axles, he says.

– The car will have a range of 30 mil in series version, then we will have more efficient batteries.

As fast charger will the European standard CCS to be used for cars sold in Europe.

If Saab can get the car out within a reasonable time, and with a reasonable price tag, is will do well against its competitors.

Elbilen i Sverige

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18 responses to "First Drive: Saab 9-3 EV"

  1. Johnny GT says:

    I liked Saab….but I think this is a classic example of being a day late, and a dollar short.

    1. JRMW says:

      Not if it is 186 miles range and competitive on price.

      Saab 9-3’s are FWD with the option of AWD. That’d be a nice OPTION for the EV as well to help it compete.

      Especially if it can get some of Tesla’s prized högfartsdäcken. (hehe. maybe it’s like VW’s farfegnugen?)

      The downside to Saabs is that they are perceived to be very very unreliable, at least here in MN.

      We need to encourage as much competition in the EV and PHEV space as possible. This will push each player to put out better and better products.

      1. Rob Stark says:

        FWD in a BEV offers no benefit in the snow and same detriment in normal conditions.

        Model X will have AWD standard and Model S will almost certainly offer AWD option shortly after Model X introduction.

        Look for the same in Model 3 and CUV variant.

      2. Jouni Valkonen says:

        actually, it does not make sense to build non-AWD electric cars as one 150 kW electric motor + inverter costs roughly the same as two 75 kW motors + inverters for both wheels. With electric drivetrains, there is no need to make compromizes with fuel economy increased complexity due to AWD.

        Therefore my prediction is that Tesla 3 will be offered only as AWD, likewise all EVs that are trying to compete against ICE cars.

  2. PG says:

    Nice car!

    I want one!!
    (30 swedish miles = 300 km = 186.4 Miles)

    1. PG says:

      högfartsdäcken = high performance tires or high speed tires

  3. Guys, this is pure vaporware. They integrated an American sourced BEV system. They don’t have regen developed at all. It’s basically a nicely done aftermarket conversion. I think Saab is really, trully dead.

    1. PG says:

      This is not the final version, they will have another system in the production version!

      1. My point is, it isn’t even the beginning of the final version!

    2. Murrysville EV says:

      Vaporware is right. This car is a long way from production, not to mention marketing and support.

      There is no money for all of this. And, they’ll be competing against two companies with solid cars and a future – Nissan and Tesla.

  4. Aaron says:

    AFAIK, “högfartsdäcken” appears to refer to the low-profile tires used on the Tesla.

    1. alohart says:

      Correct, as PG stated. But “åsterstår” must be a misspelling. It makes sense that it should be “återstår” which means “remain”.

      1. kalle says:

        yes thats a misspelling, they meant återstår.

    2. Priusmaniac says:

      Actually when you encounter a pot hole in the road, have high tire is actually better then low tire. Since 19” wheels have low tire, keeping the 16” or even 15” wheels can be a pot hole advantage.
      Of course the ideal would be to have both 19” AND high tires but that is unfortunately nowhere to find on present cars.

  5. kalle says:

    i wonder how things would have turned out if Christian Koenigsegg would have gotten the permission to buy saab. He to wander it for electric cars.

  6. This is sad to read, because it isn’t a healthy company. We have more complete EV home-built conversions driving around here in SoCal.

    One particular troubling part is how in the world did AC Propulsion deliver an assembly that WASN’T set up for regen?

    1. Paul says:

      ACP drivetrains have regen capability. The customer is responsible for settings.

  7. Stuart22 says:

    Why do I think ‘Coda’ after skimming this piece?