Tidbits on NEVS from TTELA

TTELA recently posted an interesting article that sheds some light on the development work and progress of NEVS and their new electric cars. In “Här skapas Nevs nya bilmodeller” (Here the new car models of Nevs are created), TTELA got access to three out of four development rooms at the Stallbacka plant.

NEVS main entrance
NEVS main entrance at the Stallbacka plant in Trollhättan. Picture: Michèl Annink

According to Frank Smit, project manager at NEVS, the whole company is involved in their projects, with 8 people being responsible for different main areas. They work with a large number of engineers in Trollhättan, while close to 80 people are working simultaneously in China (among other things with the new plant there).

As mentioned, they didn’t get access to one particular development room. That room might contain a new Phoenix based electric car.

One of the current projects at NEVS is the development of the third generation NEVS 9-3. “We are working on a new battery and a new electric engine”, Frank Smit says. Even though these cars are based on the Saab 9-3 from 2002, they have basically been built from scratch. There are about 30 NEVS 9-3 in existance in Trollhättan right now and approx. 10 NEVS 9-3 in China.

They also discuss transportation of the cars from Trollhättan to China, where NEVS claim that the Trans-Siberian railway is faster than transport by boat. Tests of the train rails in the Stallbacka plant has therefore recently been made.

Finally, there’s a clock counting down above one of the doors to the development rooms. It’s marked “Time Remaining” and at the time of TTELA’s visit (last Saturday), it was at 334 days. This is most likely a count down for the first car in China. According to Frank Smit this will happen in the second half of 2017.

Be sure to check out the article at TTELA for more pictures from their visit!

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 😉

IMG_0643

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 =)

Automotive innovation doesn’t come cheap

I moved this to the front page since it was only up for an hour until Spyker’s press releases started to fly out, including the announcement of JAJ’s retirement. It deserves some time on the front page. -Jeff

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This isn’t about Saab, per se. I guess you could say it’s more of a perspective piece on the industry as a whole. As I’m about to dip my toes into this industry, I’ve found it interesting to take a wider perspective and try to understand a little more of the ‘why’ – from the company’s point of view.

This article about the Volvo C30 Electric was on Autoblog earlier today:

A trial fleet of around 400 Volvo C30 Electrics is coming, and anyone who wants one had better have an awful big piggy bank. Speaking at a media launch near Indianapolis, IN today, the president of Volvo Car Special Vehicles, Lennart Stegland, said that, while the final price for the car hasn’t been set, Volvo will not sell the EV, but instead offer the car through a three-year lease for around 1,500 Euros. Per month.

I can’t imagine the digital decibels that would reverberate through comments if this were VolvosUnited. I can picture it now – we’d all be pleased as punch in the lead up to the vehicle’s introduction and then Volvo’s PR group would drop the pricing hammer and we’d go nuts.

And I can understand why, too. That’s a bucketload of money for any car, let alone a small 4-seater with a ill-shaped hatch opening.

That figure – which translates into around US$2,200 per month, by the way – is what first got my attention. Reading further into the article got me feeling a little bit sorry for our much larger Swedish compatriots.

…..so if you stick it out for the full 36 months, you get to spend $76,674 to not buy a car. Even worse, Stegland said that Volvo will lose money on the deal. Ouch. Developing electric vehicles for mass production is more than mildly expensive.

Isn’t that just a little bit amazing?

The company does the work, brings that work to market. They have to charge megabucks just to scrape back some of the cost and despite bringing such an innovative vehicle to market, they’ll still have to take the negative publicity that goes with such a high price as well as taking a loss on the vehicles.

Electrification, despite its prominence at recent motor shows, is still a niche when it comes to actual products for market. Toyota have been the most successful with partial electrification, selling Prius hybrids for over a decade now. Despite the age of their hybrid technology and there dominant market share in the sector, the most recent information I could find suggests that they’re still making a loss on each one the Prius lost around $10K per car and has only recently started to make real money per unit sold (corrected with a more recent source).

In other words, we’ve really only got widespread availability of hybrid Toyotas because the company was massive enough and profitable enough to absorb the cost of producing them for an entire decade or so.

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Electric Saab 96 at Philly.com

Brandon Hollinger is a guy who some of you may have heard of before. There was a few articles about his project at Saab History a year or so ago.

Today, his endeavours at electrifying his Saab 96 (as if it wasn’t electrifying enough!) have been covered online at Philly.com.

Hollinger got serious and in 2008 bought the 1970 Saab on eBay and combined it with some parts from a 1968. Then he used a regular three-month winter break from the theater in 2009 to go electric.

Hollinger had to fashion mounts for the motor, the controller, and the batteries.

And now that he’s had it running for well over a year, he’s actually looking to do it for others….

Now BH Electrics (Hollinger’s home business) has gotten the endorsement of the electric vehicle supply and engineering company Electric Vehicles of America. Bob Batson, owner of the Wolfeboro, N.H., company, said he and his handful of employees put together the engineering calculations plus a manual and DVD specific to the vehicle.

It would be strange to see this little car whistling down the street but on the other hand, it’s kind of cool that a Saab 96 is getting a second chance and making a statement like this.

Have any of you ever considered taking an old, clapped out Saab and giving it a new lease of life this way? According to the Philly.com article, it’ll cost you around $10K to do this to an existing car.

Hmmm. $10K on a restoration, or $10K on electrification. I’m not sure I’m that big a treehugger just yet. But it’d sure be interesting to see the results and try them out.

For the techies – power to Saab’s electric test vehicles

Press release…. relating to fleet of 70 electric vehicles that Saab will be testing this year.

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UQM Technologies PowerPhase® Electric Propulsion System Powers Saab 9-3 ePower All-Electric Development Test Fleet

  • Saab 9-3 ePower test fleet of 70 vehicles will be powered by UQM Technologies electric motors and controllers
  • Deliveries of PowerPhase 135kW systems to Saab began in Q3 of CY 2010
  • These electric propulsion systems for the Saab 9-3 ePower vehicles were previously announced by UQM as an order from an international OEM
  • UQM has in place validated production lines for its PowerPhase 100 and 135kW systems with annual capacity of 40,000 systems

LONGMONT, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–UQM Technologies, Inc. (NYSE Amex: UQM), a developer of alternative-energy technologies, has been selected by Saab to power its all-electric Saab 9-3 ePower development test fleet. Initial deliveries began in the third calendar quarter of 2010 and will continue through CY 2011.

“This order from Saab reinforces our ability to meet the performance, quality and cost needs of international automobile companies developing electric and hybrid vehicles,” said Eric Ridenour, President and CEO of UQM Technologies. “The PowerPhase 135kW systems for Saab are being built on our validated production lines with annual capacity of 40,000 systems. These production lines are among the many steps we have taken to fully prepare UQM to grow from test-fleet programs to production fulfillment.”

The UQM PowerPhase 135 kW electric propulsion systems will power the 70 Saab 9-3 ePower test fleet vehicles. The 9-3 ePower program is the first step towards developing a potential Saab production vehicle. The PowerPhase 135kW features a power-dense 135 kW/181 hp electric motor and advanced control system. Saab will use our propulsion system with a single-speed transmission, and the company has published performance estimates of 100 km/hr (62 mph) acceleration in just 8.5 seconds together with a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph). Saab will begin field trials of the test fleet in Sweden early this year.

“We are looking forward to working with Saab through its automotive testing and qualification program with our PowerPhase electric propulsion system,” said Ridenour. “Our history of technological innovation in developing electric propulsion systems combined with extensive production engineering capabilities gives us a unique advantage in meeting the development and production needs of vehicle manufacturers.”

About UQM Technologies

UQM Technologies is a developer and manufacturer of power-dense, high-efficiency electric motors, generators and power electronic controllers for the automotive, aerospace, military and industrial markets. A major emphasis for UQM is developing products for the alternative-energy technologies sector, including propulsion systems for electric, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, under-the-hood power accessories and other vehicle auxiliaries. UQM headquarters, engineering, product development center and manufacturing operation are located in Longmont, Colorado.

Saab 9-3 ePower coming to LA Auto Show

This is just a quick note for those of you who’ll be attending the LA Auto Show next month.

Not only will you be the first people to see the all new Saab 9-4x in person, you’ll also be the first in the US to see the Saab 9-3 ePower concept vehicle in all its 3-spoked glory.

Saab 9-3 ePower Concept

The Saab 9-3 ePower is the prototype vehicle for a fleet of 70 electric Saabs that will be trialled in Sweden in 2011.

The goal of the trial is to test the cars under a variety of real-world driving conditions and verify a useable range of 200 kilometers per charge, which is an extensive distance for a full capacity 5-seat vehicle.

The Saab 9-3 ePower made its global debut at the Paris Auto Show last month.

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LA Auto Show

SHOW DATES
Friday, November 19 — Sunday, November 28, 2010

LOCATION
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 741-1151, ext. 3

Saab e-AAM electric rear axle explained

The following diagram was originally produced, in Swedish, by Ny Teknik magazine. The translation was provided by a guy named Jan B (thanks a bunch!).

I’ve contacted Ny Teknik about reproducing it here but they haven’t replied as yet. I’m posting it here with full credit to them, and simply for the purpose of enabling non-Swedish speaking Saab enthusiasts (and other interested parties) in better understanding the technology.

If they kick up a fuss, this post might end up being removed, but hopefully not.

Click – and thanks again to Jan for putting it together in English.

Saab e-AAM electric rear drive

Auto Motor and Sport road test True Electric Saab 9-3

Saab are about to show what they’re calling the 9-3 ePower – a concept vehicle made to trial electric technology with a view to future application in road cars.

Their partner in this venture is a company called ElectroEngine and their first vehicle of note has been seen before, known as True Electric. This vehicle is different to the 9-3 ePower, though it’s based on what is basically the same technology.

Auto Motor and Sport visited ElectroEngine and got a chance to drive the True Electric Saab 9-3 Convertible. Swedes should go to Auto Motor and Sport and download the full report in PDF form. My thanks to Arild for this translation.

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Close Encounter

Saab 9-3 True Electric. In about one year’s time, Saab can start selling electric cars that can be driven 300 km on one charge and that costs around 350000 SEK. The company Electroengine, located in Uppsala, is responsible for the flash of genius.

Electric SaabYou’ve read it before: bzzzzzzz, and then the electric car drives away! Zero emissions, zero excitement, zero reality in the world of car buyers – however, the maximum dream, weight and price. But this is not yet another test drive down the same line. Although I’m sitting in the first prototype the driving experience is so good that I would buy it directly. There is no feeling of drawbacks.

The engines don’t sound like high whining sewing machines, but make a kind of rough sound and, yes, a mechanical feeling. Directly on the drive shafts there are two large electric motors of more than 165 horsepower each! There is no gearbox and therefore not any noise from the gears. But what gives you that real feeling of desire is not really the car itself but the fact that the technology inside has taken a major leap forward compared to the electric cars I’ve previously driven. And the strange thing, or should we say symptomatic thing, is that the technology does not come from the automotive sector, but from a small technology company, who happens to be located in Uppsala: Electroengine.

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