The Future Isn’t So Far Away

As the sale of Saab’s assets to NEVS reaches a head this summer, it will be almost three years since its last sale to Spyker. Amazingly their ownership of Saab feels like a blip in that whole spanse, which was more or less plagued by scandals, production stoppages, and dramatic sales. Yet Spyker was able to initiate several structural changes not only to Saab’s model portfolio through the development of the Phoenix platform, but also structural changes to its work force and third party sourced engineering expertise with companies like eAAM, Vicura, ZF, and True Electric. Three years, and yet here we are, without a Saab to buy and with no real promise that we’ll ever be able to drive a traditional gas powered Saab off a new car dealer lot again.

So what could the next three years bring? Three years ago, Tesla introduced the Model S in a big media splash. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, an internet billionaire, risked his entire fortune on his two startups, SpaceX and Tesla. The former just launched the first successful commercial space flight to dock with the International Space Station, so it’s clear this man can multitask. Some think of him as a cocky arrogant prick, I’m not one of them– he’s a visionary who sees obstacles and blasts through them. We’ve seen the arguments against his company (especially in comments sections of websites including our own) lambasting the company as a fly by night and their first car, the roadster, as a rich man’s go cart. Well, that go cart’s inflated price didn’t hurt sales to those rich men, who in turn helped subsidize the development of their real first car of note, the Model S.

Here’s Musk three years ago, on Letterman explaining his vision.

As he points out, even when the electricity comes completely from coal, the original roadster still emits less CO2 per mile into the atmosphere than a Prius. I wish he’d have mentioned before the commercial break when Dave took a swipe at GM for the Volt’s range that while his car is out of juice at the end of a charge, the Volt can keep running on gas, something most readers here would actually prefer, myself included.

When it came time to develop their first attempt at a ground up car, he hired the best consultants he could find in the industry. From Motor Trend’s piece this weekend on the Model S:

You’re probably snorting and rolling your eyes at the hubris of a guy who daisy-chained a bunch of laptop batteries together to make a Lotus run silently, but trust me — after a walk through the factory, a visit to a dealer showroom, and an hour-and-a-half spent driving the car on a mix of roads, my eyes are wide and my jaw has dropped. Remember, Musk’s Space-X operation just launched a commercial rocket that successfully docked with the international space station. Don’t underestimate his determination, or his ability to lure talent. Examples? In the chassis department, Huibert Mees did the Ford GT’s suspension and Graham Sutherland spent 23 years tuning Lotuses. Manufacturing boss Gilbert Passin ran Toyota’s North American manufacturing engineering operations, and sales veep George Blankenship designed the Apple Stores.

What these engineers were able to do was toss out all the conventional gear that gets in the way of creating the best car possible. Our favorite engineering teams from Trollhättan have a similarly daunting task ahead of them, and already have gotten a running start with the Phoenix platform. But if we study the lessons that the Tesla team provides, there’s incredible reason for optimism. Here’s a very simple example of what advantages the electric system provides:

By ditching the complicated internal combustion system, the weight and structure of the car could be completely designed from the ground up to give the best driving characteristics. The battery is so well designed that it not only lowers the car’s center of gravity, but stiffens the chassis. The structure of the car is completely new, as Motor Trend learned from Tesla’s presentation:

The aluminum structure of stampings, die-castings, and extrusions utilizes expertise from the rocketry division. Extruded rear suspension links (as strong as forgings) and hollow-cast front knuckle designs are claimed automotive innovations, each of which also lowers unsprung weight. Double-octagon extrusions form the front and rear crumple-zone structures, which are claimed to outperform federal standards, especially in back, where the car was impact tested at 50 mph as well as the mandatory 35. The roof crush resistance is also double the requirement (it broke the crush machine), and the rigid battery pack greatly restricts side-impact intrusion.

Tesla even bought a factory and then acquired flexible production tools that allow most parts related to the chassis to be built on site. Fortunately, Saab already has much of this advantage in that most of the tooling is all set to go to build everything in the car, so they can check that off the list of to-dos.

So how does it drive? I’ll let these videos show you instead of talking to you about it.

From GigaOM: Pay attention to the acceleration on the highway when she first merges at 4:10, it was as effortless and nonchalant as any turbo experience I’ve felt in a Saab, the two are no doubt similar. I find the air suspension pretty damn impressive, as these are test run cars with no rattles and build quality exceeding most automakers (these comments coming from seasoned auto journalists).

From Wired: Check out those gorgeous turbine wheels (ahem…Saab had them first) in grey. Keep in mind, if you live in the US, you could have one of these for less than $50K, whereas a 9-5 Aero with less standard features than the Tesla (disregard the range for a moment, more on that later) retailed for nearly $5-7K more at dealers. So as far as price goes, to get into one of these isn’t an insane proposition.

From Engadget: For those of you familiar with Trollhättan from Tim’s great videos driving around showing us the area, this is a great view of Ryan’s neck of the woods on the west coast of the US. If you wondered what the area where most of your software and even hardware is developed looks like, this gives you a pretty good idea of Silicon Valley. And the Model S is pretty much the ultimate vision of what a car from this area would be like. He doesn’t drive quite as fast as Katie does on the 101 though, so I put him last :).

If you’ve made it this far and watched the videos, you’ll understand why I put them there. If not, scroll back up and watch them when you have time. For skeptics of electric cars like me, it takes time and proof of seeing them operate, not only well but beautifully, to appreciate what future Saab might soon have. I encourage you all to read up as much as possible about the Model S since it provides the template for where NEVS will need to take Saab. While I’d like to see more than electric cars in Saab’s range (PHEV or EREVs please), I can honestly say I’d be upset if Saab didn’t fully embrace electric propulsion. Tesla intends to use a through the road AWD system similar to eXWD as a bolt on solution for their SUV based on the Model S, the Model X. After that’s introduced, Tesla’s aiming to go big with a mass market EV priced for the mainstream, around $30K. All the profits they reap from the Model S will go a long way in helping them defer development costs and the infrastructure work they’re investing in, like the quick charge stations along the roads between major cities to allow for 150 mile top ups in under 30 minutes with their cars’ built in chargers.

Three years ago, the Model S was lambasted as a pipe dream. Now it’s breaking through convention, expectation, and preconceived notions of what a car can and should be. Hopefully Saab with its engineering and production capability can excel in a similar way, and in less than three years we can have our own moment of triumph. It comes down to a few key things: creativity, capability, and capital. We know that NEVS has access to the first two in Trollhättan and possibly Japan, hopefully they have enough of the third to keep things going smooth this time. For an example of a company that has stumbled as of late on the third, you’ll have to wait until my next installment on Fisker coming soon.

167 thoughts on “The Future Isn’t So Far Away”

  1. I’m not against electric cars. They are the future and will have the performance we want to have in a Saab.

    What I don’t like is the limited driving range and the price of the cars.

      • 500 km? The maximum battery gives you around 200 km and sets you back $85.000. So yes, Model S is a nice car but definitely not competitive neither in price or range compared to a gasoline or diesel.

        • aa,
          if you write facts, then please write the right ones. The Tesla S with the $85k price tag gives you 300 miles (482 km). And if you don’t want the performance extras you can get the car for $70k.

          Even the EPA rating of that car is 265 miles (426 km), which is twice the value you are assuming.

          I don’t care about Tesla, but facts should be quoted correctly.

          • Red, any thought how the EPA rating transfers to real life motorway driving? Say you use max power a few times before going to cruise mode and doing a steady 130 km/h.
            I’d image the figures are fairly tiptoe driving in lab conditions.

            • As I’ve heard explained many times, the drain on the battery for fast acceleration doesn’t consume nearly as much energy as in a traditional car, due to the way the electric engine works. The Tesla specifically uses AC which further reduces the phenomenon. Add to that the fact that the EPA has a pretty rigorous and real world test, so these are accurate numbers. Most reviewers have stated the Model S battery to meet or exceed targets in real life driving situations.

    • Just cos NEVS bought SAAB It does not mean we have to like them, right?
      It doesn’t mean we have to believe in what they try to do to SAAB, right?

      My hesitation to NEVS are based on my love for SAAB … as I’m shore some people base their faith on NEVS for just the same reason. But everybody has a right to have their own opinion, right?
      I’m not afraid to change my opinion one day if I find out that I have been wrong.

      SAAB/NEVS are a market driven company, and then they should just ask them self one question:
      ‘what do customer wants?”
      As I understand it is not a pure Electric car with limited mileage that is in demand on the market right now.

      Nothing wrong to be on alert for new possible future technology, but right now we live “to day”.
      To build electric cars, that what is currently impossible to charge in a presentable distance and that have a very limited mileage, It’s like to build petrol cars without gasstations, or am I wrong?

      When the “charging-stations” networks are in place, and you can go on a distance that a petrol cars do…when electric vehicle might will be an alternative to the petrol and hybrid cars. And there we aren’t today….in a long way. In a sarcastic version it feels like Maud got it where she wanted…”windmills productions”.

      Start with hybrids/ petrol cars for the common market, built up the brand and market.

      Today all in our life are more or less built on cars and transportations…leave and pick up children at school, go shopping in a mall outside town, we live in one town – work in another.

      For me it has felt sometimes that SU almost has been like a “advertising agency” for NEVS, sorry, and I been the “black sheep” about my hesitation that NEVS has no interest in cars, like I say once before “has no more interest to build cars than my granny”.

      I’m sorry I can’t jump and shout “HURRAY” to the electric car idea from NEVS, I just can’t, sorry.

  2. I’ve been following this company for a few months and along with Fisker, they seem very promising. It was also nice to see the launch of Model S live on internet last friday.

  3. Great Article, Jeff, and i could’nt agree more, hopefully Saab/NEVS can do something like Tesla in three years time… and hopefully it won’t be too late. The Tesla presentation was really impressive…

    • The trolls are already away.
      If you think of consultant companys started up with ex. Saab engineers they are less then 400 people and critical mass to develop a car in the past was app. +1000 engineers that we had on Saab before bankruptcy.
      Rest of the engineers have new assignments and I think they will not go back to “NEVS” so easy.

  4. Half way through the first video I felt “I want that car” 🙂
    Imagine a car like that but with Saabs “a little better and smarter than the rest”.

  5. I really appreciate Tesla, instead of putting a lackluster, ugly yet affordable EV car to market like CODA they are going at it the right way. Make it appealing to the “management” and then work your way down. It has been Tesla’s goal all along to make an EV for the masses they are just going about it the most secure way that they can think to do it. NEVSaab needs to enter the market with that standard happy EV medium of $35-40k though or it will fail, as IMHO the the tech already exists to make these cars more affordable. But here is still hoping for another Petrol Saab!!

  6. It is a very interesting car, with a not so interesting interior. But I think the Tesla X is more interesting.

    The Model S is the first of many to come. There are other interesting BEVs on the pipeline, and in some countries the charging infrastructure starts to be a reality. For me, the only problem right now is the price. The Tesla S may start at $49.9k, but for the big Battery you have to pay $20k on top.

    I don’t think that a BEV-only strategy is the right way to go now for a company that wants to sell 100.000 rather than 10.000 cars, but still I would prefer a EV with Saab genes rather than one of the Tesla cars.

    BEV: Battery electric vehicle

    • Considering how much the Volt ($31,645) Leaf ($27,700), iMiev ($21,625) cost, I really wonder how a Saab EV is really going to work out cost wise with Tesla/Fisker covering the high-end and all of the other manufacturers covering the lower end (BMW/Volvo).

      Heck, even these three cars are coming no-where near the expected sales figures GM/Nissan/Mitsubishi to top that off.

    • Sorry folks, this is still pie in the sky ! The price is not $49,900 but rather assumes a tax credit of $7,500 to get to that price. That comes with a 40kWh battery pack. The 85 kWh battery pack model was quoted at $77K. So we can see there is no free lunch here. 45 kWh more battery is $20,000 more. And that is aggressive pricing for the battery system. That means that the battery pack is over $35,000 alone. Yet we have people posting that Saab/NEVS need to sell the entire car for that price. It is fantasy !

      The range given of 285 miles with the 85 kWh battery is enticing. But then what. Well if in the us you found a heavy duty Extension cord on a 110Volt 20 amp circuit it can provide a little over 2 kW per hour. It would take over 40 hours or almost 2 days to recharge the battery. Now if you think about getting more power to reduce the time, the typical full size US house a 200 amp service at 220 volts. This provides a margin that allows more full use of all lights, air conditioning, hot water heating ovens, stoves refrigerators , home electronics etc.

      If you turned off all power to the house and gave it all to the Tesla it would in theory be able to be charged in 2 hours but it is highly unlikely that the battery system could be charged at such a high rate and absolutely not possible through the on board charger. This would require a massive heavy charging station to be installed in your home. Also such high rates of charge would not be conducive to long life of the battery system.

      So how long does the battery pack last. Please don’t use the Prius battery as a reference. It is never allowed to discharge very much with out being recharged by the motor. All batteries have a finite number of complete charge to discharge cycles. Some systems do better than others but life cycles drop dramatically if you fully charge down to practical fully discharge. Many systems are well under 200 cycles like that. But being positive lets assume that the Tesla can provide a 500 of these cycles. In theory 140,000 miles on a battery pack. Then pay out an additional $40,000. So it cost about $.35 per mile for the battery pack. And at curent California electricity prices about $.09 per mile for the electricity. That is compared to say 300 miles in my Saab at 30 mpg I use 10 gallons of fuel. That 300 miles in the Tesla will cost $132. But that is ONLY if the battery can last for 140,000 miles. The reality is some current Tesla owners have had their batteries fail completely after a few thousand miles. Even if they warranty the battery for 100,000 miles this pricing model would increase dramatically.

      So although it looks like a nice car and would be fun to have it just won’t make it as a practical, cost effective real car. Sorry , there is no breakthrough battery . . . yet. And lastly why should my hard earned money be spent to help my neighbor save $7,500 or more on his purchase of a car? ? ?

      • The other great question is, when your EV has covered, say, £120k miles, do you spend a great deal replacing the batteries or sell ‘as is’, and if the later, what would a buyer/someone pay, knowing they would have to spend a fortune on new batteries.

        • I think THIS is the really interesting point. If it is too expensive to replace the batteries, what will happen? Will anyone want to buy a used electric car where the batteries might be at their end?
          Will Tesla (or NEVS) buy the car back for the exchange?
          Or will the car be scrapped?

          This is something that must be really clear if the consumers are going to persuaded to risk buying a battery powered car.

          • This is why I do like the Renault or Smart way better.

            If you buy on the new Renault Z.E. you will have to lease the Battery, so you will never have a “dead” Battery.

                • Don’t forget you also need to pay for the electricity to charge the batteries, last time I checked it was not free. In fact unless capacity of the grid is ramped up to meet the increased demand, if electric cars become popular the cost of electricity would probably rise due to the principle of supply and demand.

                  • Jersey,
                    that is just what I’m saying. You pay a certain amount of your energy costs as battery lease to the car manufacturer and a smaller part to the energy supplier.

                    Today with a petrol car you pay all the money to the energy supplier.

                    • It is not clear at all that the ongoing energy costs for an electric are going to be lower than gas or diesel, particularly if governments start seeing the cash cow they have in fossil fuels start to diminish. Right now they offer subsidies, but that costs them money. I have no doubt that once they have coerced enough people into electrics they will crank up the taxes on electricity as well to make up the lost revenue.

                      Additionally, a battery lease raises the spectre of having to make regular payments on a battery pack even if the car itself is paid for in cash, whether you drive it or not. With a gas or diesel car if money gets tight due to losing a job or whatever issue you can keep your payout under control by how much you drive. Drive less and you pay less. In a battery lease scheme you will need to keep making monthly payments forever, you are in a situation where for all practical purposes the car is never really paid off.

                      BTW, thanks and a tip of the hat to Angelo V., whose postings still appear to be banned, but I received the following through email as his reponse:

                      “And watch taxes on electricity skyrocket once governments figure out that
                      revenue is lost on their already outrageous gasoline and diesel taxes. Lord
                      help us—-we’ll be taxed out the wazoo to cool and heat our homes, run
                      computers, watch televsion—-and yes, drive our electric cars.”

                      I believe he is 100% on the money here.

  7. OK so I partly buy into the BEV idea, BUT if Saab want to sell 100,000 cars I think they would need to cost a fraction of what a Tesla costs and have a far better range too! At the moment, and I believe for the next decade at least, the majority of potential car buyers will still want something that runs on petrol/diesel, possibly even hybrid. It seems as though Tesla are making costly vehicles for a small minority of car buyers, the ones with lots of money who will use such a car as a play thing or a novelty.

  8. Nice videos

    EVs are coming, no matter we like it or not.

    Tesla might have just have found the sweetspot in the automotive revolution we are just about to embark on, i.e. electrification. Worth to mention is also that the Tesla share has been doing rather well since it was introduced on NASDAQ in 2010 – better than index.

    What is interesting with Tesla is their timing. Maybe they can cut a market share large enough with Model S/X to survive and thrive before the big boys arrive to electric game. Which they will.

    Have a look at youtube on BMW i3 (launched in 2013) and i8 (launched in 2014). Especially i8 looks fantastic performance wise. BMW are setting up the production in their Leipzig plant right now., including a carbon fibre chassi workshop.

    Which brings me to the point … how in the world can NEVS believe a by then 12 year old 9-3 although electric, can compete with these guys in 2014? Phoenix might fare better , but I doubt it – it still is a platform designed for a traditional drivetrain (allthough with electric rear axel ). Is there something we don’t know in regards of NEVS battery technology etc? Or is there a hidden agenda.

    I feel much of the discussion last week regarding NEVS and SAAB, focused on the marketability of plug-ins and electrics, not about NEVS plans in itself.

    Perhaps this is the wrong forum for that discussion.

  9. We’re not even allowed to use cabin heaters in the parking lot during the coldest period because the fuses pop. I’m not so sure about the grid either ones you plug-in hundred thousand EV’s when it’s -25 C.
    Anyone seen the video where it’s explained how the UK have to lend capacity from the French powerplants at the time when the Brits turn on the evening tea kettle.
    Last fall there was a storm here that cut the electricity for days for tens of thousands of people. We’d better buy some hi-po diesel generators before our next new (Saab) if this is the future.
    I’m sure BEV’s are great, in California.

  10. I’d have one of these in a heartbeat – forward thinking engineering, unafraid to challenge conventions, looks good, drives well and performs spectacularly. If anything, NEVS are a little too late to this party!

  11. Must say the design of the car is quite nice, looks a bit like those up-market Aston Martin. The detailed interior and “engine compartment” are unfortunately, not shown in the videos. Guess plenty of electronic metering to show status of the charge and vehicle operating conditions. For a normal internal combustion engine user, there will be a fair amount of adjustment for the switch, I supposed.

    Just wondering, when the accelerator is floored, is there a louder sound from the “engine” like what we have from a Saab?

    • >The detailed interior and “engine compartment” are unfortunately, not shown in the videos.
      Actually, both the “engine compartment” and the modernized version of the Saab 95 reversed rear seats were dhown shortly in the Wired-video.

      Some parts of the interior that I could have been more beautifully designed in my opinion, but most of it looked quite nice, and as a whole, I like the Tesla car loads more than any (“post Saab”) car from GM, for example. If NEVS manages to take some of the best properties of that car and combine it with typical Saab safety, comfortable and fun-to-drive standards, then I really look forward to seeing it. 🙂

  12. I am still not convinced that the BEV is the saviour of the automotive industry some would have us believe but one thing i did like about the Tesla is at least it looks like a car!

    I can’t stand the current trend that if a car is a hybrid or full electric it has to look like a a box of batteries with wheels. The Prius, the Leaf et al, all look so boring and awful that I just could not buy one even if I did think they were the way to go. The limited life of the batteries too has to be considered. Who wants to replace the ‘engine’ in their BEV every few years at huge cost?

    I didn’t think much of the interior but there wasn’t much to see and I don’t like the continual references to the ‘IPad’. This is aonther issue I have with the BEV. They are another step closer to the car becoming just another throw away plug in gadget like your mobile or mp3 player, ipod or ipad. What I think I mean is that as far as I can see, for all the technical advancements and ingenuity these BEV’s may have, they lack one important ingredient; a soul. Saabs have a soul; Alfa Romeos have a soul; Concorde, the Spitfire, the Queen Mary and the space shuttle all have souls.

    For all their failures and oily, smoky deposits, the car with an actual working, moving, breathing engine has that one thing a BEV will never have; the ability for you as the owner to lift the bonnet and tinker, adjust and fiddle with it if you want to.

    As I said, I remain to be convinced but if NEVS can produce something that looks like a car you would actually like to drive at a cost the majority of us could afford and that could be driven further and longer without the need to charge it for huge amounts of time, then I will follow their progress with interest.

    • Except for the fact that the Tesla drives like one of the most planted, engaging and spirited cars that the automotive journalists who tested it have ever driven. The base model is more planted, secure, faster, and cheaper than the most advanced Saab 9-5 ever built, the 2011 Aero. That’s saying something. And it’s got breakthrough technology. That iPad-like control screen allows the driver to be more connected to people, the road conditions, weather on the trip, and other alerts that make it more connected to your daily life than any other car on the road. I’d say that’s a pretty smart, but sweet soul.

      • You are missing my point. That may be their opinion but that hardly makes it a fact. Anyway, you are having a laugh aren’t you. I have yet to come across any electrical gadget with a plug at the end of it that has a ‘soul’. If you know of one, let me know and I will try it out.

        • Try out some vacuum-tube electronics, pleny of “soul” and tinkering possibilities there! Today’s transistorized digital electronic products, while more capable, are very sterile in comparison.

      • As far as I could conclude from what I got when googling ‘Tesla Model S driving impressions’, no car journalist has actually ever driven a Tesla Model S. They were invited to ride on one for 10 minutes with the car’s designer Graham Sutherland at the wheel. Some of those, mainly on the gadget side of the US ‘journalistic’ spectrum, then decided they could write a review based on that. I wouldn’t base a review of an audio installation on tinkering with it for 10 minutes, let alone an automobile.

        Go read Jalopnik’s (and others’) hilarious reporting on that.

        Apart from that, I’m not going to buy a near-80.000 dollar car to have to re-charge after 300 miles. Well, I’m not gonna buy an 80.000 buck car anyway but you know what I mean. Or 58.000 dollar for 200 miles of range.And for 10.000 dollar more you can buy wheels that may (or may not) extend the max range on the top-spec model to no less than 320 miles… I mean, come on, guys, let’s stay realistic, this still is not a useful car for serious daily driving except maybe for limited distances in urban agglomerations. It may, one day, but just not yet. Let there be that famous breakthrough in battery technology first that seems to be around the corner for a while now.

        And Í’m still unclear on the question if this is also ‘achieved’ when usijng HVAC, lighting and accessories.


        • A lot of people here could learn so much from you ivo. A respectful and reasoned skeptic. Maybe you didn’t do enough googling though as I found several journalists that clearly drove the cars themselves. I think it was engadget who even posted a video of their journo driving around the “test track”. The media event Tesla had was setup specifically for people to get seat-time.

          I agree with you and will not be buying that car. Not because I don’t want to. Simply because I can’t afford it. But you have to give credit where credit is due. The price is remarkably low for what you get. Fabulous performance, great looks, safety(judging on early indications), phenomenal handling, very efficient use of space(like the old Saab), very innovative features(like the old Saab), most likely very low upkeep and high reliability, exclusivity, very engaged company, extremely enthusiastic fan base(like Saab). Come on man! It’s a sexy car that carries as many people as a minivan without even having a wagon back-end. As a family man who has had to sell the 9-5 to get a minivan I would kill to have something like that. The other thing is that, at least around these parts(Texas), most everyone has two cars. Especially the rich who can afford that car. Even in Texas it is unusual to drive more than 50 miles in a day going to and from work. 265? Yeah that would more than cut it for the vast amount of people. Too early to be an all electric household but one car? Heck yeah!

          • Driving around a ‘test track’ doesn’t sound like much of a test to me.

            I have certainly driven cars myself that feel just fine on dry tarmac or even on wet tarmac. First hint of snow and they completely fall apart. Most road tests (of any car) that I have seen focus on dry summer roads.

            Yesterday I drove from Berlin to Copenhagen, often at speeds north of 240 kph, I bought 20 liters of fuel after the ferry, drove around some sights in Copenhagen, then continued home to Mariestad, filling up 55 liters of E85 on the way. I was forced to stop and sleep for an hour (1 am), but not because of the technology my car is based on.

        • Oh silly me. That video I was talking about is the last one provided by Jeff above. I’ve seen so many vids and news articles about this new car that my head is swimming.

  13. Don’t forget that Tesla has received 465 million USD in grants and loans from the US government and some press reports say they are asking for more. If needed, will the Swedish government do the same for NEVS?

    • Great point. I forgot to mention that but I was getting rather long in the article, but hopefully with the indications we’ve received that SweGov likes the electric car route they’ll give their blessing through more environmentally friendly loans. Remember, Spyker got about the same amount (actually more) in loans guaranteed by the SweGov. Amazing that a startup could do what Saab couldn’t.

  14. Batteries don’t last for ever. If a battery pack lasts three years and costs ££££££ to replace, these electric cars will have NO resale value. How often do you hear car owners saying things like “I’m not going to spend £600 on a car that’s only worth £1000”? Except for an electric car it will be “I’m not going to spend £3000 on a car that’s worth nothing”!

    Petrol is very cheap, it’s the tax that makes it expensive. Governments cannot afford to lose money, so electric cars will be taxed to compensate for any losses from low petrol sales. They are only free of tax ( in some places at least) as a government sop to environmentalists. It will be different when it starts losing them revenue.

    Electric cars will be rich boys toys for he foreseeable future. Rich boys want 2 seater bling or mega-cars. Small family electric? Forget it. Research project only at he moment. There’s a scam going on here. A very sophisticated one, but a scam of some sort nonetheless.

      • If the lifetime is 7 Years and Tesla is offering 8 Years battery warranty, you can always have a new battery pack for free every 7 Years. 😎

        • That is, if they can afford it or are even around at that point. At the moment it appears like there is just one hyped premium EV manufacturer but ones everyone start doing them incl. the big name BMW, MB, Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari etc. who’s going to be interested in a Tesla that cannot compete on price without big volumes?
          NEVS better start building SAABs people can really buy ASAP. The Japanese and German companies won’t take any prisoners ones the EV business takes off. The question is will NEVS be a mass producer of cars or not. I’m pretty sure VW and Toyota EV’s can run on electricity in Chinese cities just as cleanly as something developed in THN. The difference should be the car itself.
          Lets hope that the Japanese engineers don’t introduce the infamous seven year life cycle of cars when they come over…

        • Remember that the battery warranty will prorate against the use you got. So if it has an 8 year warranty and fails at 7 years you will still need to pay 85% of the cost of the new battery.

          • You know this, or is this the way warranties work where you live?

            Where I live, if a part fails during warranty time I get it replaced for free, but I don’t know if this is normal in the world.

            • The proration of wear items i.e tires and batteries ist common. However all major electric vehicle companies have been very undefined as to what a defective battery is. Generally they are specifically stating that a degradation of battery capacity over time is normal. So effectively range goes down overtime. But there are many exclusions to the warranty regarding how you charge and store the battery. In those cases the warranty is denied completely.

              This issue of degradation and charging factors is familiar to anyone who runs a laptop or cell phone. THe difference is just the magnitude of the replacement costs.

              • I don’t know the terms and conditions of the Battery warranty by Tesla, but if it is the way you are telling, then it is not really worth a cent.

        • What’s usually killing a traditional car nowadays is the engine parts failing one after the other. The quality of the coach work and underpinnings has improved dramatically over the last 20 years, if you take reasonable care of your car it can last easily 20 years. There are tiny things that break, like window regulators, but those can be replaced rather inexpensively. The big repair costs start when bits and pieces of the engine break. A water pump here, a turbo there, coolant leaks, oil leaks, clutch, etc. etc. Because of the complexity of the engine and difficult replacement, this drives up the cost of repairs.
          An electric car, on the other hand, has a very limited amount of things that can fail. Basically we are talking some electric motors, battery pack and a computer with sensors. A properly executed EV will have these components easily reachable and replaceable. Being massed produced, these components won’t have to cost much either, they are pretty simple. So, in the end, I’d expect that cars will last a whole lot longer when they are only electrified, mainly because the cost of maintenance and repairs (or rather replacements) will be much lower.
          It will be more a fight against getting bored with your 20 year old car than anything else.

          • The difference is that today I can buy a used vehicle and make needed repairs myself at low cost over the remaining life of the car. With an electric car the motors and control circuitry are not the problem, it’s the batteries. The possibility (certainty?) of having to suddenly replace batteries costing thousands of dollars on a car that is really not very old (such as the 7 years mentioned), let alone on a much older vehicle, is going to be a killer.

            • Maybe the difference is not that big. A 10 year old car will take roughly $2,000 per year to maintain properly. This amount will be half if you do all the repairs yourself, but not everyone is willing or able to wrench themselves. A battery pack currently costs $10,000-$20,000(?), so if you would lease the pack over a 7 year period then the cost would be pretty close to keeping an old traditional car on the road. As big battery pack hit the main stream it is expected that the price will drop dramatically, especially if newer materials become available. The current battery packs are not much more than a lot of laptop batteries strung together.

              • Big difference doing small repairs and inexpensive maintenance over time versus having to shell out a large amount all at once. What will be the value of a ten year old used car that needs a $10,000 battery pack to be usable? (As far as battery costs dropping dramatically, that’s in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” department.)

                • Battery packs will probably be more modular and can be replaced in those parts that have degenerated instead of replacing a monolith. In this way the life span of the battery investment is longer.
                  The work of replacing the batteries will in itself be a cost though.

                  • If one section of a battery pack fails, can the rest be far behind? There will be some variation of course but I would expect most cells of the same age to start failing near the same time.

                • JerseySaab: you have one enormously huge piece of flawed logic here: A used electric car in 2022 will have a huge range of batteries from which to pick from that I guarantee you won’t cost $10K. Remember when 42″ plasma tvs cost $6,000 ten years ago? I just bought one for $299 this last week at Best Buy.

                  Also, you’re really not the target customer for NEVS, I’m pretty sure they’re looking for new car customers over used car shoppers. I’d say most SU readers buy used Saabs over new though, so most of the site isn’t really a NEVS customer at all.

                  • “I’d say most SU readers buy used Saabs over new though, so most of the site isn’t really a NEVS customer at all.”

                    Jeff, I hope you didn’t think very long before writing this? People on SU have most likely bought thousands of new Saabs over time. I wonder how many of those 11.000 pre-orders SWAN/Saab had a year ago were visiting this very site to get information?!

                    NEVS’ biggest mistake would be to alienate current Saab owners, period.

                  • Remember when 42″ plasma tvs cost $6,000 ten years ago? I just bought one for $299 this last week at Best Buy.

                    I was buying batteries 10 years ago (and for that matter, 50 years ago). Those batteries have not seen a price drop of the type that you cite for a 42″ plasma TV.

                    Electronic products are unique in their constant price/performance improvement, and it is not clear at all that this same type of price reduction can be pulled off with batteries. The issues behind their cost of manufacture are very different.

                    Although NEVS is not concerned with used car buyers, many new car buyers are. They may well be hesitant to buy into a new, unproven technological scheme that might backfire on them at trade-in time. As I’ve said before, the used car trade is an important secondary factor for the new car market.

                    Given the choice (even assuming that electric cars can reach parity in initial pricing), would most new car buyers rather spend $40,000 on a new car that in 5 or 6 years will have decent resale value, or one that depending on the vagaries of battery issues, might wind up being worth next to nothing? (If I ever decided to pony up for a new car again I know which route I would take!)

                    • Given the choice of buying a car that had a power system that could be completely replaced with a more advanced one in 10 years and brushless electric motors over one that relies on oils, fuels, and a ton more moving parts, I’d rather have the former.

                      As far as battery prices coming down over time, it’s not a crystal ball statement, it’s a fact. Tesla has seen battery prices reduce about 10% per year for their roadsters over the last couple years, and that’s with a very limited production. With the increased competition and research going into the field, they’re basing their business model on well founded projections of prices further decreasing. I’d rather trust their team’s projections than yours, no offense.

  15. Well, I`m impressed. But what worrries me about EVs in general is the performance. 0 – 60 in less than 6 secs in the hands of someone who struggles with a vehicle that takes 12 secs – there will be a lot of accidents waiting to happen.

  16. Since NEVS came the new owners and the talk of using Japanese EV technology I, like most assumed this would be Toyota. Afterall they are the market leader by a huge margin and who else is there, right?. Well after some casual web surfing at the weekend, mainly looking at alternatives for cars I came across the Honda Clarity FCX. This is something I saw on Top Gear a few years ago and was very impressed unitl the point that it is only for California as a test fleet. Powered by Hydrogen you fill up just the same way as petrol (or Gas), far better then waiting to recharge for 4 hours!

    The obvious obsticle is no Hydrogen infastructure, then I saw this, Honda Home Energy Station That got me thinking about NEVS future plans where they said a vision was to have one provider and the tie in to home energy. Wher you would get heat, electric, fuel all from one source.
    The point here is if the cost of these energy stations are within reach of the ordinary consumer (which considering the subsidies countries are offering to get people to buy EVs its not too much of a leap) for providing heat, electricity and hydrogen for the home from natural gas, these home filling stations could start to create an infastructure of sorts. Especially now as home owners in the UK with Solar panels get paid for feeding surplus electricity into the grid why not make available your hydrogen to other users.
    From the car perspective the FCX has a 270 mile range which is better than pure battery electric. Honda have been running this since 2003 and just opened the first commercially available filling station in Sept 2011 in conjunction with BOC Ltd, (I have a BOC plant 2 miles from my home so if Honda or perhaps Saab-NEVS want volunteers wink wink!)
    So maybe Honda could be a peice of the puzzle. It’s easier to be a global leader in a new area than one already established and have a car that feels like a ICE and refuels like an ICE with the range almost like an ICE.

  17. SAAB has always been a leader in technology, has never followed the so called leader, but they also knew when to take chances and when not to.

    I agree the future is right around the corner and new and better for the environment technology will eventually be the norm, but to me a SAAB has been and always be a SAAB, not an overpriced acessory or a toy car, but a real SAAB!

    • Long ago I read about some plans/suggestions for making the batteires easily replacable, so that the car, instead for waiting for time-consuming recharging, stops at a machine that automatically and relatively fast disconnects the battery for charging and replaces it with a fully charged battery.

      • The replaceable battery pack COULD be the answer. However it would mean every car would have to follow utilizing the same type of battery pack which fastened in the car the same way. It could also change the dynamics of costing because rather than buying a car with a battery pack you would instead sign a transfer lease agreement with a consortium of companies that would operate all the battery replacement stations. The battery packs could be very smart and report how much you charged them and you would get a monthly bill for battery rental and battery swaps.

        Imagine that because every car would have to the same in respect to the battery that you could drive the car onto a platform with wheels guides, and an automated device would remove your existing battery and replace it with a charged one. This could be done in under a minute.

        The downside is that someone has to pay for literally 2 batteries for every car. A lot of money tied up. The upside would be that battery could be small and therefore light and inexpensive because you change it so quickly.

      • Sounds sensible enough – a bit like swapping the gas bottle for your barbeque here in Aus, which we already do at the servo!

  18. I’ve got nothing directly against NEVS wanting to build electric cars or even electric Saabs for that matter. It’s just that NEVS appears to have a distinct case of tunnel vision. All it can seem to see is that buyers might magically flock to an electric Saab 2 or 3 years down the track, when logic predicts that that will most likely be far from the case. It will be a long time before electric cars are for the masses and longer still before they dominate the market. If NEVS wants to be a Swedish Tesla, that might be fine but it will a very long time before it can make Saab profitable or sell many cars. In the meantime I still hope Mahindra arrives with some corrective lenses and balances some perspectives.

    • LOL !!!! Yes, I couldn’t have put it better myself! Tesla do not make cars for the masses, they cost far too much. It is going to be a really long time before such vehicles become a viable option for most of us, therefore I hope they have a “Plan B”, otherwise I fear that they will just go bust. Yes let’s hope that Mahindra comes up with some ideas to tide them over until the world is ready!

  19. Absolutely LOVE the Model S! I would buy it in a heartbeat just for the looks. Being electric makes it even more awesome. I definitely want to see Saab create their own electric vehicles, with that troll-flair only found in Saab vehicles 🙂

  20. I also admire what Tesla is doing and am glad they have a very committed owner and LOTS of cash to take the long range approach to making this work and do the right design and development work. It still remains to be seen whether they can make it profitable long term (and has been pointed out, they have received some subsidies to help), but I admire what they have done and the technology.

    My concern for NEVS and Saab going down the same path exclusively (if they do not add hybrids, etc.) is that Tesla has a 3+ year head start with a lot of money already spent in development. So NEVS would be competing not just with other European near-luxury cars, but with Tesla. Can NEVS afford to be 3 years behind and still make this work? My main concern is that Saab not end up where it was last year 18 months from now. NEVS is going to need very deep pockets if they are going to “put all their eggs in the EV basket”.

  21. The other aspects of the future that are here now are the new record high temperatures in the U.S. and new data showing that sea levels are rising faster than expected on the eastern seaboard (where many wealthy people have vacation homes).

    The consistency of these effects will soon convince more and more people that it is time to doing something to alter our path toward calamity.

    People will buy electric cars.

          • The sky is falling !!!!
            Natural phenomenon of variable climate is so true Way to put it Jersey Saab !!

            By the way how could the oceans only rise on the eastern seaboard ? It is one big body of water for the whole world. .

      • David,
        Apparently you were not aware that Al Gore has declared this issue settled science and not further debate was possible. Why did you have come forward with facts. Makes it all very messy to deal with!

        • Sad thing is at one time I thought “An Inconvenient Truth” was a great documentary. Until I ran across some astrophysicists by the names of Henrik Svensmark (Danish), Jasper Kirkby (British), Nir Shaviv (Israeli), Habibullio Abdussamatov (Russian) and some others who espouse the theory that 20th century warming was caused by an abnormally magnetic sun. And at the end of the 20th century the sun began to go into a magnetic funk. The last time it did this was called the Maunder Minimum which occurred from about 1645 -1710 during a period called the little ice age.

          Abdussamatov believes we will be entering another mini-ice age by 2040. A mini ice age would be far worse than global warming’s worst predictions. Here’s a video on Svensmark’s theory of how the sun’s magnetic output affects our climate:

          • Svensmark’s theory is that a magnetic sun protects the earth from cosmic radiation and cosmic rays cause clouds to form. So when the sun’s magnetic output is weak, the greater bombardment of cosmic rays causes more clouds and the earth gets colder.

            Nir Shaviv has shown that when the solar system travels through the Milky Way’s spiral arms, the solar system gets heavily bombarded with cosmic radiation and we have ice ages and when we are in between the spiral arms we have ice free periods.

            Jasper Kirkby heads a project at CERN called Clouds where they use CERN’s collider to make cosmic radiation in a cloud chamber. Initial experiments are proving Svensmark’s theory to be right.

            Most recent video on Kirkby’s CERN Cloud experiment results (within the last year):


            Interesting science tending to prove that CO2 is not the cause of the recent global warming and this of course has some relevance to those of us who would not want to see is go to electric cars for the purpose of preventing CO2.

  22. One of the most encouraging aspects is in the development of the power units. Here in Scotland a professor at St Andrews University has been doing some rather interesting work, it may be worth looking at what he his predicting on both costs and range that can be achieved.

    He is Peter Bruce Professor of Chemistry at EaSTCHEM (Edinburgh and St Andrew Research School of Chemistry)

  23. Great Article, Jeff. Many of us have concerns about the price of EV. Yes expensive today.
    Accelerated R&D and production volume will push down the cost of batteries. It is technology and just look at what happen in computer related components in the last few years.
    I have more concerns about the ongoing cost of hybrids cars that full electric cars.

  24. Tesla has been making a loss for many years and requires many subsidies. It is only the artificial tax environment that can make people consider BEVs for the foreseeable future.

    The ironic thing is that when EVs are popular the tax breaks will disappear and EVs will become even more impractical than they are already.

    I remain to be convinced that NEVS can succeed outside an artificial Chinese market as the infrastructure for EVs is severely lacking in the West.

    And whats more is it so environmentally friendly to have battery powered cars? I think not.

    • Using a bettery powered car is very friendly to the environment locally around the car. And before you laugh, remember what traffic jam looks like. Remember what Chinese, or other major cities looks like nowadays. The air in Beijing is almost impossible to breathe. Battery powered cars will make a great impact on air pollution locally, close to traffic jams.

      • i can agree with you in terms of pollution around the car compared to ICE based engines although I think the quality of those cars in Beijing is well below what is possible.

        My concerns are the environmental impact of producing billions of car batteries and disposal there of, along with additional environmental cost of producing BEVs. With replacement cycle times for the batteries much lower than the average car lifetime it would seem the impact is not at all insignificant.

        It is great PR to say a BEV is green with zero emissions but we know that is not a true picture of impact of these vehicles.

  25. Love love love that Tesla! Seating for seven in a car that looks that hot while having outstanding handling? Not sure how much I would enjoy the interior but the package is so compelling. I’d be happy for Saab to take exactly what they have there and tweak the styling to be more Saaby and the interior to be properly designed. Do that and we would have a winner.

  26. Well guys, before we change name to TeslaUnited I’d like to point out a few things. The Tesla is a nice car but it’s not priced similarly to the 9-5 Aero and it doesn’t have a matching equipment even at twice the price ( and today you can buy an Aero for even less), At 87.900 you’ll get a Tesla with leather upholstery, but even if you pay the 97,900 for the top model you won’t get four-wheel drive with torque vectoring.

    Tesla has been heavily subsidised by government and “green money” during many years. (I may be wrong here but I think Apple and other big American companies has invested in green funds which has invested their billions in Tesla) without it the cars would have been even more expensive. Saab/Nevs can not count on anything but peanuts from the Swedish government or Swedish investors, but maybe there are some Chinese:money. Sorry for puttinng you all down, but let’s be a bit realistic

    Looking forward to the Fisker report.

    • Let’s use $USD pricing for now since that’s it’s home and primary market at the moment. The car costs about $58,000 or $50,000 after tax subsidies. The 9-5 Aero started at $49K but with the standard options that the Model S has it comes to about $55K. It also has 100 less horsepower and lacks the air suspension and has a lower center of gravity and RWD. Definitely not as good on ice as a 9-5, but the Model X will feature a more advanced torque vectoring system similar to eXWD that may make its way to the Model S 2.0.

      If you recall, Saab (Spyker) received a pretty hefty subsidy that they defaulted on in the order of around 400 million Euro.

      • All good and well, Jeff, but the USD 58.000 Tesla S Model is the bottom-of-the-line version with the max range of 200 miles or 320 km (factory data, see their site) that needs hours to re-charge after that. The 9-5 Aero definitely got further than that on one tankful of fuel and required just 5 minutes to refill.

        Sorry, a somewhat flawed comparison imho. And, sorry again, Tesla is imo still not a viable car for daily driving patterns of many/most of us. From where I live it would take 3 days to get to a vacation destination in mid/southern France and like 9 days to get to halfway Spain. You know, all those costas and such where all those Europeans do it. 😉


        • For what it does as a daily driver, absolutely it’s a fair comparison. For someone who drives over 200 miles a day or on long trips fairly often (or doesn’t have access to a second car for longer trips), then no it’s not for you. But if you’re buying a $50K car, chances are you’re not that buyer ;).

          I respect Tesla’s strategy to go after the premium buyers first and trickle down into the mainstream as battery improvements and their own infratstructure developments increase. By the time their $30K electric vehicle is released, I’m sure there will be a much more comprehensive electric charging network in their core markets (NYC to DC, California, parts of Europe, Japan, China, etc.).

    • was just sking myself if this become “TesslaUnited”… 🙁

      And if I just comment some notes from the net about charging cars:
      “If the battery become “drain-out”…real lowbat it’s dead ? correct ? batterys will not be a lowprice product.
      ” charging time at home between 8 and 12 hours”…(well just hope for no overtime this week)
      If all cars become pure electric …what about power prosuction..electricy come today from coal, wather,oil and wind.
      How do the everiment handel the market…do we not just move “the probelm” ..

      • Don’t worry, when there’s Saab news to talk about it will dominate, but Tesla provides a reasonable template for us to study a successful launch of a new electric sedan, something NEVS has publicly stated is a goal.

        If the battery drains out it is indeed dead, but Tesla is going to psychotic measures at this point to ensure it doesn’t. According to Jalopnik they’ve even used GPS to locate a car before it reached that point (after weeks of sitting with a near dead battery) and charged it after trying to reach the owner unsuccessfully. That’s customer service.

  27. A few quick things. Some commenters like to infer prices of batteries, their useful lifespan, charge cycles, chemistry, etc. based on their own preconceived ideas about how electric powertrains and batteries work. They clearly haven’t done actual research into how Tesla and other automakers are working to minimize or completely eliminate these issues through developments in battery chemistry, package, current types, etc. Before you buy into the skepticism, I thoroughly hope you follow this site for further articles which will delve into how electric propulsion systems have come in only 3 years time. That was the whole purpose of this splash article.

    And if you want to debate global warming, SU is not the right messageboard for that. When someone makes a positive comment akin to, “I’m glad Saab is embracing sustainable technologies,” for one to blast them with “GLOBAL WARMING ISN’T REAL!” or “Sustainable? Pfff…batteries are toxic, expensive, and a waste of natural resources,” please remember that there’s a finite amount of fossil fuels available to power cars. Fifty years doesn’t seem like too long, but then again the first 99s were developed only 40 years ago. Again, do your homework before bitching us all out please.

    • If we produced thorium reactors we could run our cars on methanol and take CO2 out of the air doing it. I would much rather see us head that direction. Rare earth elements necessary for batteries are very hard to find and right now China has a virtual monopoly on them. Some people are predicting that all batteries will have to be made in China in the not too distant future. So I think there are plenty of reasons to be disappointed about heading in this direction right now.

      • Statement directly from Tesla on your point:

        “Tesla does not use rare earth metals in our battery or motor. Typically, rare earth metals apply to DC motors, which use magnets. One of the reasons we use an AC induction motor is it does not require magnets, which often contain the rare earth metals.”

    • Jeff,
      Sorry to burst your bubble, but I utilized Tesla’s own information. It is not skepticism, it is reality. There is no breakthrough of battery technology. The motors and control systems are very up to date but again represent standard good efficient practice for manner of electrical industrial systems. The dollars speak loudly for them selves.

      It looks like a fun car but not one that can make economic sense for most of the market.

      • Sorry to burst your bubble but you didn’t burst his bubble. What Jeff is referring to is the big picture and trying to help people see it.

        So where did you find this on Tesla’s website?
        “But being positive lets assume that the Tesla can provide a 500 of these cycles. ”

        Oh wait. You made assumptions. Lithium chemistry batteries have cycles of 1000 or more. And that is without taking into consideration some newer technology that is or will be put into production soon.

        Why don’t you do as he asks and wait to read the whole series of articles before claiming to burst anyone’s bubbles? I have been following the battery industry very closely for years and you simply can’t make assumptions about the price of battery storage 7 years from now based on what it costs today. It is always going down.

        • Exactly, thanks saabluster. As I said to another commenter above, remember when flat screen tvs that were 4″ thick amazed us for $6,000? I remember seeing the first Philips 42″ at best buy for $5,999 and my mouth dropping. I can buy 2″ thick 42″ plasma in a higher resolution tv for $299 now from RCA. Amazing how times have changed in less than a decade, the battery industry will no doubt be even more competitive and revolutionary, considering the R&D focused on it is higher than ever and most universities are competing over development.

          And LG, if you’d done your homework you’d know already that Tesla is hedging against future battery prices on their own and offering a $12,000 battery replacement program. They can earn a return on your money in the ten years it will take to wear out the battery (not seven, the actual estimated lifetime Tesla projects is closer to ten). Since the cost of batteries is rapidly declining (at present 10% per year according to current roadster owners), Tesla expects to actually make money from this transaction. Get the facts, man.

    • I am pretty sure I have read through most comments in this thread now, and I see no unprovoked “GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT REAL!” comments?

      Someone claimed the temperature was rising rapidly and that we would soon have to wear boots to work (because the sea would rise), and davidgmills quietly pointed out that this is just not happening.

      CAGW is one of the Unique Selling Points of EVs. We are fed a lot of baloney on the dangers of CO2 emissions, while conveniently not told simple facts such as plants growing a whole lot better if you increase the level of CO2 by a factor of five.

      I have spent quite some time as of late trying to look into the whole CAGW question, and so far my conclusion is that it is just another doomsday prophecy. The skeptics publish their raw data, the CAGW proponents do not seem to (I have yet to see that happen).

      Oil running out seems to be the next issue on the list. Again, I would like to see some more data.

      Without these two particular USPs, it becomes unclear to me just why I would want an EV for my daily driver? I don’t doubt the ‘fun’ factor can be kept (or even improved upon), but the practicality part of the equation is definitively unclear.

      I’m currently on vacation in Berlin. With my 9-5. Two days ago I hit 257 kph on the autobahn while it was raining bullets.

      • Global warming doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. Try researching global cooling and the coming ice age. That appears to be more likely. As to CO2, Methane as a greenhouse gas is 25x more potent. It’s also a useful fuel source and should be harnessed rather than released into the atmosphere. However cattle is a particularly large source of Methane, but collecting cow flatulence is a difficult proposition!

        • Global warming or not, it is still a good idea to be careful with our natural resources. Carelessness has led to some amazing disaters in the past.
          And when (or indeed if) the oil runs out (or gets too expensive), it might be a good idea to be one step ahead.

              • I’m not sure that we want to produce much more methane. We just need to harness a whole lot of it that escapes into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. A lot of Methane escapes from coal mines, but some of that is now being harnessed and used as fuel to generate electricity. Sheep and cattle flatulence is a big source of Methane, but how you capture it is anyone’s guess!

      • Rune, really? The data is out there. Disregard global warming if you want, but there is simply no way you cannot understand that resources like crude oil are only available in limited quantities. Why do you think Canada’s exploiting their tar sands reserves? Not because it’s cheap, but because there’s a very high demand for fossil fuel. And while you can question the claim that peak oil has been reached (or not), you cannot debate the fact that we keep on burning more and more oil. We WILL eventually run out, and fossil fuel IS bad for the environment – if not for CO2, then for sulphur, biodiversity, NOx, smog and so on. Using electricity for transportation purposes makes more sense from an energy point of view. It always has been that way, even if you produce electricity from fossil fuel. The problem is not its efficiency, but the availability of electricity and the capacity of batteries. It’s a technological issue, not a physical.

      • Rune I took what Jeff said in regards to avoiding the global warming bickering as just that. A sensible suggestion to take that argument elsewhere. There was already a seed of this being brought up, as you yourself note, and he was merely trying to prevent the GW word wars from even getting started as opposed to dealing with it after the fact and having people here all worked up and having a cluttered Saab message board.

  28. “Someone claimed the temperature was rising rapidly and that we would soon have to wear boots to work (because the sea would rise), and davidgmills quietly pointed out that this is just not happening.”

    Weather is what we have today – climate is what the next generation will have. As usually people have huge issues relating to anything that is not part of (or clearly visible in) their *own* comfortable life *today*.


    Have we reached status quo regarding the new owner of what was formerly known as Saab Automobile AB? They will during the next few months hire people for their management and maybe 100 engineers? And in October 2013 they the will show the electric NG 9-3 SC that will sell for SEK 350.000 and up? And they will start taking orders and slowly build them in a corner of the plant using about 50 employees?

    “This is it”, so to speak? Or are there any substantial indication that something else will happen before the ordinary summer vacation? Something that has a bearing on the consumer market and the average car buyer?

    • Weather is what we have today – climate is what the next generation will have.

      But the doomsayers are claiming that today’s weather is “proof” of their pet doomsday prophecies. You can’t have it both ways.

    • I had two long posts that seem to be missing because they had links to videos and required moderation. I don’t see them yet. But my post was far mores specific about four astro-physicists, Henrik Svensmark (Danish), Jasper Kirkby (British), Nir Shaviv (Israeli) and Habibullio Abdussamustov (Russian) who propose that earth’s climate changes have been caused not by CO2 but by significant magnetic changes in the sun.

      Svensmark’s theory is that clouds are increased by cosmic radiation and cosmic radiation increases when the magnetic output of the sun shrinks the heliosphere which protects the planets from cosmic radiation. During the 20th century we had a highly magnetic sun which protected the earth from cosmic radiation and we had fewer clouds increasing the temperature.

      But at the end of the century the sun went into a magnetic funk, cosmic radiation is increasing, and cloud cover has begun to increase. The last time the sun went into a major magnetic funk was during the little ice age from 1645-1710. Abdussamatov is predicting the magnetic decline will continue to such an extent that we will again see a little ice age by 2040.

      There is ample evidence in the geologic record to show that increases in cosmic rays (increases in C14 and Be10 correspond to increased cosmic radiation both of which are easy to detect in sediments) means decrease in temperature.

      So for an automotive blog, this is quite important, I would think. If you are going to go electrical, and especially if a lot of that electricity is going to come from solar collectors, we could be looking at very immobile society. Which for me means we need to think along the lines of thorium reactors that can produce methanol to run our cars and stick with the ICC, rather than going electrical.

  29. Before breaking out the Birkenstocks there really needs to be some NON “saving the Bolivian spotted jungle gnat” research done by anyone that feels I’ll be swimming from New Hampshire to Boston anytime soon or that we go buy SPF 560 next year.

    (and we have WAY more than 50 years of oil left)

    There is nothing anyone on this planet will ever be able to do to stop its destruction or to fix all it’s problems.

    And for the record….I’m quite positive there were ZERO fossil fuel burning, CO2 emitting items on the earth for the last ice age or any other climate change time periods.

    If I did my math right I should say. Um…5…time pi…divided…carry the 1…yes ZERO CARS or other related machines ON EARTH for the last ice age.

    It’s a cyclical event. Put down the koala, step away from the tree and go live life.

  30. Re: The future aint so far away;

    Allow me to quote from song of the seventies by a favourite artist of mine, John Prine, Living in the future:
    “We are living in the future
    I’ll tell you how I know
    I read it in the paper
    Fifteen years ago
    We’re all driving rocket ships
    And talking with our minds
    And wearing turquoise jewelry
    And standing in soup lines”

    Personally I am a zen-person and I feel that when people try to make futuristic designs, those designs tend to grow old very fast. And most cars today are sold/marketed as some sort of fashion statements, which are in themselves designed to grow old quickly, making us feel a need to buy something new. Something for the future. The problem is we never actually get there, because it always happened “fifteen years ago”.

    All the over-designed crap and gadgets that automakers fill their cars with today makes it hard to achieve mindfulnes in a modern car. It’s becoming more and more a virtual experience aiming to a achieve a sense of driving rocket ships. Again: “fiften years ago”. As it were.

    Nah, the old two-stroke saabs were extremely zen. My old 92 900 is still very zen. But will the nevs-cars be zen? Or will they, by the time they roll out on the streets, already be the past, because they were designed for the future as it was seen today..?
    Will we actually spend more time in soup-lines, in one way or another, than driving (imaginary) rocketships/ev:s from/of the future?

    • I don`t think of myself as being a zen person, but I know exactly what you mean; well put and so refreshing after wading through some of the stuff that`s being posted in response to Jeff`s piece, Carma – I remember the song , too!

  31. Jeff, I get most of what you say and where this is heading. I don’t doubt:
    1. EVs can be performance cars.
    2. EV can be completive with petrol cars.
    3. Battery technology is evolving. Battery life will be longer. Capacity will be greater
    4. Battery costs will come down enough so that replacement isn’t a make or break problem.

    But what I don’t get is the question of range for the foreseeable future, or at least for the next 4 years or so that I would keep a new car. Until there’s infrastructure in place to provide a quick less-than-10-minute-150-mile-charge, or a quick battery swap, there’s no way I could own a car that can’t go at least 500-550km of highway driving. That’s make or break for me, and probably a bunch of other people. If I want to drive to Vermont to ski, or take a trip to Washington, or go to Martha’s Vineyard, from New York, I want to do it in my own car; I want to have enough juice when I get there that I can drive another 40km if I want to visit someone or go out to dinner after arrival, and I don’t want to worry that I’ll run out of juice on the way if I’m stuck in a traffic jam for an hour on a 90 degree day and need to run the A/C.

    • I’m not arguing with you one bit. As I’ve said a number of times, my needs include an onboard generator of some sort too, which is why I’ll be looking at Fisker, then the Volt, etc. in further articles. This was just a jumping off point to start discussing the pros and cons of BEVs. The Model S (and Model X) work great for suburban couples who have an extra gas or PHEV/EREV car, not for city dwellers like us.

  32. I think one distinction needs to be made, electric car vs battery power. Electric car, maybe……battery powered, NO. Range is still the main problem with recharge time and battery disposal significant problems also. I would consider an electric/hybrid car if powered by an ic engine or fuel cell, I honestly would not want it but eventually there may not be an alternative. I truly dread that day.

  33. So why don’t I see any serious comments about hydrogen propulsion? It’s market-ready. BMW has/had a fleet of H-powered cars on the road for years. And a grid of H-pumps cannot be any harder to create than setting up a high-speed charging elecrical grid next to the existing grid.

    Moreover, hydrogen engines are just about the most environmentally friendly technology for poiwering cars and trucks you can have. They emit water, for pete’s sake…


    • Because Hydrogen cars are still not ready for the road.
      BMW was burning Hydrogen in a conventional IC engine, not the best of both worlds. GM, Honda, Hyunday, Toyota and Mercedes have hydrogen electric prototypes, but although Honda leases the FCX Clarity in California, there are still some issues to solve regarding hydrogen transport and storage.

    • Not that simple. Escaped hydrogen, which is unavoidable, poses a serious environmental threat. Not to mention that the inefficient processes for producing hydrogen would result in much more energy consumption compared to battery power. And, most hydrogen is currently produced from fossil sources, not from water like most assume.
      One source:

    • Noise, torque curve, hi thermal load, issues with the storage and transport of hydrogen…
      Yes there are positive sides, but you also inherit the bad things of both worlds, imho.

    • Hydrogen is the smallest element, and thus very hard to capture and keep captured, especially when it is under pressure. It really wants to leak out of any container.

  34. I work at GE and in my building there are many people doing research in battery technology. The performance and practicality of an electric car is really hard to dispute, it’s just the range and weight that is the hang up. I say, if these brilliant minds here, or others world-wide working on new battery technology, can find that big breakthrough we are all hoping for, then electric cars are going to be flying off the shelves. Just think if that Tesla Model S went from 4700lbs to 4200lbs, or extended the range by 100 miles. Wow. Just wow.

    There is a Fisker Karma at work here and if Saab wants to learn a thing or two from someone, they should hang out with the Fisker guys. Holy cow is that thing gorgeous. HUGE but gorgeous. Much more-so than the Leaf and Volt parked next to it haha. I have yet to find a Tesla but I do own a Lotus Elise so I’m guessing the Roadster drives fantastic 🙂

  35. In about three years I will be in the market for a new convertible. If NEVS have an electrical one by then, I will consider it. Just as I will consider Tesla’s convertible when it hits the market (if it features a soft top). Yes, I realize it won’t be cheap to buy. But I have no problems with a range between 200 and 300 km, and I don’t have a problem paying the very reduced electricity bill to operate the car and the equally reduced bill for its maintenance. By the time I exchange my diesel engined 9-3 for a new car, I will have spent at least 16.000 euros on fuel alone. That’s something to consider when buying an EV.

    • My electric bill for my house is much more than my gas bill for two cars and there is no way my house uses near as much energy as my two cars. And I live in Memphis with cheap electrical service because of the TVA.

      • One should not use electricity for heating purposes – it’s incredibly inefficien. It’s bad enough people have the tendency to solve heating by installing AC (instead of first insulating properly, installing shades on the outside, …), but it makes no sense at all to use electricity in your buildings’ heating system (unless you have a passive house with solar panels that fuel a heat pump, or you have a building that requires so little energy to heat that another system than electrical would represent too much overhead). Then again, I’m afraid that Europe’s POV is a bit different than America’s. EU law states that ALL new buildings that get erected from 2020 onwards must be passive buildings. Meaning the buildings should not consume more energy than what they produce by themselves. For government buildings, that date is even more severe, since they have to comply to that rule by 2018. That is 6 years from now.

        • Isn’t the problem that if energy consumption goes up, you are going to need more power plants? A new power plant is a very expensive animal and will drive up the cost of the energy produced.

          Further more, you will need nuclear plants, and last I heard they are more expensive to build now (because there are more restrictions) compared to the 70s.

          Meanwhile, the alternative is in some places still seeping out of the ground.

          But of course, we could all charge our EVs at night. That still plays havoc with the convenience factor though.

  36. I can see an electric car as attractive only if it is a pure city car, e.g. the new Smart fortwo electric drive.
    It has a range of 150Km and it takes 7 hours to be fully charged from the house grid.
    0-100kph in 11.5 secs, max speed 125Km/h. Not bad for a pure city car.

  37. The whole idea of ​​electric cars are suppose to protect the environment. Electricity is perishable, therefore it is consumed at the instant it is produced. El produseras with nuclear, hydro, coal and oil power plants and wind power, and some other smaller roads. Since an expansion of nuclear power is considered dangerous, coal and oil is bad for the environment and wind and water provides for large destructive interference with nature and the ecosystem. . With a fleet of about 6 million in Sweden (registered vehicles) that should be loaded, as with regular consumption does not mean that we urgently need to build more coal and oil power plants; “shoot ourselves in the tail”, fooling ourselves that we are as environmentally friendly. If all the cars on this earth for 15-20 years are powered by electricity how do we do? Today Sweden import electricity during the winter, among others oilseeds in the East. When we have difficulty getting to heat homes. How do we turn, we still have a butt in the back.

    Long-term and pure hypothetical thought.

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