First Drive: Saab 9-3 EV

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 Saab 9-3 EV 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 – Inside Evs