Renowned for safe, quirky cars, Saab has been handballed between owners in recent years, where financial troubles have kept us wondering whether it will ever return to the glory days. National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) is certainly hoping for a big turnaround. Having secured Saab in 2012, the company has been producing ICE-powered Saab 9-3's for Sweden and China. But the new owner also has big electric goals, and wants to take electric Saabs to the growing Chinese market.
The 9-3 Electric Vehicle is a development prototype produced as part of a prototype series from Saab. The car is a Saab 9-3 Aero modified to be powered by an all-electric, 100 kW (140 hp) motor, which should be good for a range of around 200 km (124 mi) and a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time of about 10 seconds. While 200 km might not sound like a huge range, it's worth bearing in mind that a production Nissan Leaf EV has a range of 180 km (112 miles).
The engineers who have been working on the car also claim that it’s pretty sharp in the corners thanks to a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and low center of gravity. Inside, NEVS is even claiming that the EV is just as spacious as the standard gasoline-powered car, with the placement of the lithium-ion batteries under the floor allowing the EV to retain the full interior space and luggage compartment of the standard Saab 9-3 Aero sedan.
As well as paving the way for a production model, NEVS says the development of the prototype will aid in the understanding of EVs across the company, while being used as a test bench for technical development and verification of the manufacturing setup.
Whether a sharp handling, good looking EV designed and engineered by Trollhättan’s finest will be the car to save Saab, however, remains to be seen. The problem is money, or lack thereof. Saab has bounced between owners recently, and NEVS has not been without its own financial difficulties, with money troubles forcing a pause in production of gasoline-powered 9-3’s earlier this year. But by developing an EV the company appears to be going on the front foot.
If it does make it to production, electric Saabs will be manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden for the Chinese market.