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>Saab’s new owners have electrified the company, with the announcement that Saab is producing its first-ever all-electric vehicle, the Saab 9-3 ePower. The EV makes its debut at the Paris Auto Show this month.

It is the prototype for a test fleet of 70 Saab 9-3 ePower vehicles which will participate in extensive field trials in Sweden early next year, under what’s called real world driving conditions. That includes extreme cold, which we all know drains battery power.

Saab 9-3 ePower is first electric car from the Swedish manufacturer
Photo: Saab

The Saab 9-3 ePower has a projected driving range of about 140 miles (200 km). It is powered by a 135kw/184 hp electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission, and a compact 35.5 kWh high density lithium-ion battery pack.

The battery pack is housed mainly in the wheelbase space normally occupied by the exhaust system and fuel tank in the conventional, gas-powered Saab 9-3. That configuration prompts Saab engineers to promise that the 9-3 ePower will have the same driving dynamics as the standard SportCombi model.

The 9-3 ePower uses electro-hydraulic power steering, 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.

Jan Ake Jonsson, Saab Automobile’s CEO, predicts that by 2015 annual sales of EV vehicles are expected to be 500,000 a year, and Saab wants to be in that green garage.

Guest Blogger: Evelyn Kanter