Saab 9-3 EV And The Importance Of A Little Local Knowledge

I had cause to wander around a Swedish Saab forum yesterday and saw some interesting info posted there about Saab’s EV program. It’s unconfirmed, which is why I didn’t share it here and by referring to it today, I’m not saying it’s news in any way at all. I’m not on the Saab news train.

I’m mentioning it here because a post from Autoblog earlier today made it seem just a little bit funny.

The post on the Swedish forum had some info that sounded like it was taken from a meeting of some sort. The relevant bit of information for this story is that it mentioned some range figures for Saab’s EV’s.

The first figure mentioned was “25 mil” and the second figure mentioned was “50 mil”. If NEVS can achieve those range figures, that’ll be quite impressive – if you know what those figures mean in the Swedish context.

More on that in a moment…..

Autoblog picked up on a story from Auto Motor and Sport overnight, a story on Saab commencing the production of 200 EV’s that will be sent to China for testing.

Here’s Auto Motor and Sport, via Google translate:

This fall will start series production of electric Saab 9-3 and from next year, you can buy yourself an electric car at Nevs. In the first phase, the range is about 20 mil, but as the battery development increases, the range extended.

And here’s Autoblog, before they got schooled in their own comments section on Swedish distance measurements:

These first EVs have their batteries mounted down low in the chassis for a low center of gravity and have a range of about 20 miles on a full charge. That’s absolutely paltry compared to the other EVs on the market: a Nissan Leaf will travel more than four times that distance, and a Tesla Model S will go ten times farther on a charge.

Oops. Autoblog have obviously not heard the saying “to assume makes an ass of u and me.” With Google translate giving them no direct translation of “mil” they just figured it meant mile and ran with their story. Wrong move, guys.

When you’re reading Swedish stuff about distance, a “mil” is a Swedish term for the measurement of 10 kilometres.

So when AMS say the range will be “20 mil”, it means 200 kilometres to us non-Swedes (or just over 120 US miles).

The Swedish forum guy I happened to come across yesterday was quoting an initial range of 25 mil, or 250 kilometres, which would eventually top out at 50 mil, or 500 kilometres, when the top line model is released.

That’s quite a bit further than a paltry 20 miles and pretty competitive with the Tesla Model S in terms of distance 🙂

No, I have no idea about the accuracy of the Swedish forum guy’s information but he seemed to have a reasonable amount of it.


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  1. The devil as ever, is in the detail. Great news about the Saab EV if its true though.

  2. Reminds me of a Saab friend who once started (but did not finish) a taxi ride to Trollhattan from Stockholm after being told it was about 40 mil. As the first hour came an went, and the meter piled up, he asked how much further. “Another 30 mil” came the response. That’s when he asked to turn around.

  3. If true about the range, that’s really great!

    Since the 9-3EV is going to China for testing, serial production starts later this year, when can I go to a dealer or factory sponsored store in North America to buy one?

    That assumes a price that I can afford, but I’d expect it to be in the US$50-60,000 range.

    Maybe someday…..I can hope……

  4. I assume this is why Saab United is claiming there’s going to be big news on the 29th May?

    I wonder how they did it? The battery pack must take up the entire boot of the car (as I assume they can’t stick it in the chassis or the back seat).

  5. Autoblog really stepped into ‘it’.
    As a kid I believed all Americans lived in mansions until I learned the meaning of square feet…

    PS. Love the tZero photo. A hitech petrol or diesel generator working all the time under optimum load can be quite enviromentally friendly too. (and useful when your EV stalls)

  6. Unconfirmed, absolutely, but you are right to flag this up. They’re not just sitting around twiddling their thumbs over there. So we remain on course for exciting prospects ahead, I reckon. A usable range above 250km and now you’re talking. 500km and it’s goodbye ICE for ever.

    Have you guys seen the story about the new small battery just developed in Israel that takes fewer than 30 seconds to charge? The application of that to a car battery is surely just around the corner, as is the biological ingredients in the battery itself. Even a 15-minute coffee-break charge on a 250km battery would work great for me when I think of the long-distance work trips I sometimes make.

    Apart from anything else it’s just great talking about Saab gearing up to really get back in the game. Every now and then I look at the 2014 9-3 on the NEVS site. I have no intention of buying one (I would if I had the spare cash) but it’s just nice to know it exists as an actual Saab in production in Trollhattan, while designers and engineers beaver away at the next-gen stuff as we speak, and that the near-apocalypse of 2009-13 is firmly in the past.

    1. Slightly OT, but still about the Saab EV future!

      I have also finally woken up to the Jason Castriota 9-3 design. Swade, as with many things, you were right all along!!

      I never liked the PheoniX concept so that threw me when I first saw his 9-3.

      Bottom line: the more I look at the JC 9-3 the more it grows on me. I wonder if, after all the shenanigans that’s gone on, a deal can be done to use that design in the next-gen Saab EVs?

    2. Actually, charging the batteries in a few minutes is not so much of a battery problem as a power distribution problem. The A123 cells of today can almost already handle this, if the cooling and supply connections are proper (we’re taking starter cables getting hot here, for something that is about a D size cell). Tesla uses 363V/225A for their 30-60 minutes charging at 100kW (which is 5-10 times as much as the installed peak power available for a regular house), feeding more than 10 times this power will be a huge problem, in regard to infrastructure, heat and safety. Just take a look at the Tesla S charging cable. No, filling up an EV is unlikely to be the same style as when you fill up an ICE (an EV is usually kept reasonably filled up all the time).

      1. Interesting. But perhaps the power-distribution problem you describe is a soluble one with further r&d? Or are we talking about rules of chemistry and physics here that cannot be subverted by innovation?

        1. I would say that the major hurdle is safety. Even at “only” Tesla S levels, if you get a bad connection the heat is likely to instantly melt whatever is close. Paschen’s law tells us at voltages above 327V may also result in arching in air, and if arching happens then you will _really_ have problems. (And this is the main reason for the 230V domestic voltage, it has a nominal peak voltage of 325V.)

          1. The cutting edge of industrial technology has always been sharp, that’s for sure. Fascinated by this information, thanks.

          2. I have no clue at all about these stuff. But I would be surprised if the handle goes “hot” before a connection is secured.

  7. 120 miles is more like it. I was afraid i’d be stranded on the way home from Sam’s Club with that nifty trailer stuffed with frozen shrimp!

  8. That the 9-3EV gets 20 mil is old news. They were being tested and driving around last go around before Saab went under in sport combi form. They would have been a great car to have been exported State side and a slap in the face to GM’s Volt with it’s paltry 38 miles per charge on a good day.. Funny is how things get lost in translation!

  9. That’s why I’d prefer everbody and everything uses SI units. But you can’t get those old units out of the peoples’ heads, as it seems. Here in Germany, people are still giving power output of cars in horse powers (=0.735 kW). Crops are weighed in “Doppelzentner” (=100 kg). IN UK, they still have speed limits in mph, and the height of horses in units that I cannot explain in the public.