9-3 EV1: First impressions

I’m sure many of you have seen the excellent pictures of NEVS new prototype of the electric car, EV-1.
Last Friday I went to see the car live and to get a closer look at the car in Trollhättan.
I will not repeat the facts from the release, if you want to take a closer look at the presentation from NEVS, check it out here. This will be some personal reflections and observations, without testing the car.9-3_ev1_1

The first thing I noticed when I saw the EV was that except from the yellow line on the bumpers with text that say this is a electric vehicle (“elbil”), and the fact the car is missing a exhaust-system it looked pretty like the other 2014 9-3 Aero’s from Nevs. The first things that I found out look different on this particular prototype (NEVS have some more EV-prototypes) is the wheels (17″ ALU59 with 225/50 tyres), the blue Ice-block headlamps and regular halogen foglights (2014 9-3 use as we know LED-lamps). All in all, without the yellow tape, this could be a face-lifted regular everyday-use car – in other words a perfect car for testing.

One more thing I noticed pretty soon was the ride height, without any proof or measuring, for me it can look like the same ride height as the 9-3x. For me it sounds reasonable, because the batteries of the car is mounted under the car where the petrol-tank and exhaust-system is mounted on a “normal” 9-3 – and this is giving the car an immediate benefit; it is just as practical as the 9-3 sedan we know. Another benefit having the batteries under the car is the weight-issue, doing it this way is giving a low center of gravity since the batteries is pretty heavy. One more thing regarding the ride-height, destroy a battery isn’t a thing you want to do, most because high voltage, and second because the price of the battery. For a EV the total cost of the batteries about 40% of what the car costs. But if the accident is a fact does this prototype have approximately 190 batteries in total, and they is grouped in 11 separate modules, so you can change only one module if necessary.

ev1_ren_gladje
Pure Joy – Under development in Trollhättan

When we talk about the batteries, the guys from NEVS told me the batteries is planed to last the entire life of the car. You can charge the battery approximately 5000 times, so if you charge your EV every day it will be about 13.5 years. One of the things NEVS do to increase the lifetime of the batteries is to not take out max power from them, and they are also have plans for cooling down the batteries.
The charging of th batteries must be done from a standard 16A plug, the prototypes is not support faster charging yet, but that is of course something NEVS will work with. The battery-pack is 37kWh in total, and it will take about 10h to charge.

So if we go to the inside of the car is it as I said earlier pretty like the regular 2014 9-3 Aero, even the sound isolation is at this prototype is exactly like the the 1024 9-3 Aero. The first thing you will noticeis that there is no gear-shifter. That is replaced with four buttons (R,N,P and D), and the function is like a car with automatic transmission – the big difference is that you push the button instead of moving the gear shifter. The instruments is also different, there we find the tachometer you will find a “range-meter”, wich tell you how many kilometres you can drive before the battery is empty. Where we usually find the fuel-gauge we have a gauge with the same function, but with “fuel-gauge” design. We find find the speedometer in its usual place, but it’s only scaled to 160kph. Now the EV prototypes is limited to max 120kph, so at this stage this isn’t a big issue. You also find a Ecometer where we find the turbo-meter, this will help the driver to drive economic so you can take out longest possible range, wich for the prototypes is about 200km.
The observe reader will recognise the instruments, the hardware are taken from SAABs e-Power concept, but NEVS have developed new software. If this is something NEVS will keep, or if they will develop something new is a open question. I think this looks OK, but remember this is a prototype and the focus right now is to test technical solutions – not to make fancy instruments 😉

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In the interior we also find another great feature we in SU crew have waited for; the new Infotainment!
This is a thing that isn’t exclusive for the EV, as soon it’s ready we will also find it in the 9-3 Aero. Sadly the Infotainment wasn’t ready, so I can’t say anything about functions, but the Infotainment is as we had written before based on a Android device, and that opens for NEVS to make their own user interface and maybe doing their own special apps for service-points, charging-points and so on. But I can say it looked great, with this new touch-screen the dashboard looked more clean then ever, it’s no need to say I liked this very much 😉

So what will be the next step for the EV prototypes? From what I see I think NEVS will be working on slimming the 9-3, every unnecessary kilo slimmed away is extra range. A question is also how whey are planing to heat up the couple during the winter. If the fan is going to use power from the battery-pack we will have a lower range during the winter, and personally I think this is a important question for many here in Scandinavia. We will have the same range that we are used to have summertime, and we want a warm and comfortable car =)

Electric Updates 2: Reality Check

This article is coming way sooner than I intended to write it, but so much has happened this week in the electric vehicle world that I felt it necessary to cover it. As you’ll recall from earlier in the week, New York Times reporter John Broder test drove a Tesla Model S from Washington, DC to Boston to find out how well Tesla’s supercharger network works, and claimed to have run out of power on the way. I updated my post with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction already, but he’s now backed up his allegations that Broder lied about his article with facts. From Musk’s blog about Broder:

In his own words in an article published last year, this is how Broder felt about electric cars before even seeing the Model S:

“Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate.”

When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.

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Electric Updates (updated with Tesla response)

It’s been a while since my last post, but I haven’t lost any interest in Saab. There hasn’t been too much exciting NEVS news (public at least) to share, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of exciting EV news to report. The fact that Saab is investigating production of the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) version of the 9-3 is exciting and welcome news, but doesn’t change the fact that its parent company is still primarily interested in electric cars. As I’ve read through comments the past few weeks, it’s clear still that some don’t see a viable market for electric propulsion in its current stage. I’m not writing this post to try to change their minds, only here to show those who understand the role it will play in the future of automotive technology relevant stories affecting the current leading players Saab wants to compete against.

While this is a long post, I find that I often cover a lot of ground that I see commenters on other articles confused about. There’s a lot of juicy info in here to bring everyone up to speed on the good and bad in the EV world, so it’s probably worth reading the article and the links provided if you care about this stuff. To make it a little easier to digest, I’m breaking it into sections about each subject. Truth be told, it might as well be 5 separate articles, but heck it’s the weekend so enjoy!

Tesla

I’ll admit, the main reason I even had enough inspiration to post today is because I saw a Tesla driving in my mom’s neighborhood outside Buffalo this week. For two seconds I thought it was a new Ford Fusion, then a Jaguar XF, and then I realized quickly that it was something I’d never seen before, a Model S. It looked sexy, and it was fast – 55 in a 30 mph zone fast. For frame of reference, watch it smoke this Mercedes Benz E63:

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Some thoughts about EV’s and charging points from Norway

In Norway have EV’s a quite big share of the new cars being sold. When the numbers for october was ready, they said
that so far in 2012 the Norwegians had bought 116 612 new cars, of those 3 404 are EV’s, that’s about 2.92% of all new
cars in Norway in 2012. Compared to the same period last year this is +138%.(!!)
So, why have Norway a higher share EV’s than the rest of Europe?

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Trollhättan Could Get Busy

With the rumor of a very large sale of the first EV’s yesterday that could potentially be a whole year or more of production, believe it or not there is further speculation of increased production coming to the Trollhättan factory.

Today Simon Warburton at Just Auto has written that if given the green light to start producing the gasoline and diesel versions of the current 9-3, NEVS say they could be hiring as quickly as winter.

“We are evaluating the possibility to start production of the existing 9-3 model with the existing powertrain next summer,” a NEVS spokesman told just-auto from Sweden. “That would give us some benefits as we could start the recruitment process earlier than planned.”

There is nothing really new in the above statement from NEVS but that they could start recruiting as early as winter is a ray of hope to the many workers who have not found employment.

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This Week in EVs: Disaster Edition

It’s been a few weeks since my last TWiEVs post, but there hasn’t been much to cover. No matter, the biggest news in the world of automotive electric propulsion has really been flooding in this week (pun intended). Once again I’ve gathered some electric vehicle and battery news from around the net for SU readers to gain some insight into Saab’s new challenges.

Image from Jalopnik

Battery safety has been called into question this week after several Fisker Karmas and Toyota Prii (priuses?) spontaneously combusted after burning at port after being inundated by the storm surge of Superstorm Sandy. That same storm made getting gas an extreme headache for anyone with a car in downstate New York and northern New Jersey as many readers here can attest, we’ll look into how having more EVs might change that.

And speaking of EVs in North America, there’s some new studies out that show the US will actually lead plug-in sales in the next few years and that China will surprisingly not meet anticipated targets. Someone might want to tell those guys at NEVS they might want to rethink their Chinacentric model?

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This Week In EVs

Since substantive Saab news is hard to come by lately, and when it does emerge it’s about things like what if decisions regarding Griffins and the like, I figured I’d at least try to shine a light on the electric vehicle market. NEVS plans on focusing their initial efforts on an EV using Japanese technology (read: batteries), and as they conglomerate the parts necessary to commercially produce and profit from their first Saab, they will be struggling with the same challenges as competitors who have made their own solutions. It’s our attempt at SU to educate Saab fans and future new Saab customers about these engineering issues, EV advantages and disadvantages, and try to better understand the field so that when the new Saab EV emerges, we have a pretty solid knowledge base to draw from.

EVTV

Here’s the top 4 videos to watch this week in the world of electric propulsion.

1. Drive magazine talks to the head of engineering for the new Porsche 918 Hybrid.

This is basically the proposal I had for the High Performance Saab contest that Swade ran a while back, except done if money wasn’t an option. A completely new engine with carbon fiber mounts, carbon fiber chassis, new battery tech, and some incredible software to make it all work are all highlighted in the video. If Saab could do the poor man’s version with lightweight metals, their own EV propulsion, and some sort of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) motor or generator on board, and keep it under $40K out the door (with tax credits), I think we’d have a pretty solid car that most of us would die to own. Now, if they felt like building a limited run Aero-X as a showpiece for their new Japanese tech for $1,000,000+, I’m sure that wouldn’t be such a bad outcome either.

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