What’s that Spaceship at the Rest Stop?

One of the more obvious obstacles to the adoption of EVs that Saab will undoubtedly face is long distance travel using Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). It’s the big reason why most companies to date are also focusing on including a motor generator on their EVs and thus building Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs). But adding a conventional fuel powered generator onto an electric car adds cost and complexity, which changes the chemistry requirements for the battery and yields a much lower range than if the car were simply battery powered. Since NEVS has stated their intention of first going the BEV route with their first production model based on the existing Saab 9-3, it’s worth a look at one very interesting solution unveiled this week.

Tesla decided to go the pure EV route, and chose to deal with range anxiety in a pretty radical yet simple way. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a network of spaceship-like stations dubbed Superchargers. Each station can charge four to six cars at a time, and costs about $250,000 to build. They’re charged by a high voltage power supply presumably pulls it’s power from the grid, with PV (solar) panels that feed power back into the grid to offset the load. At the moment only the Model S and future Tesla vehicles are able to take advantage of the superchargers. It takes about 30 minutes to fill up a car with 100kW, which is about enough for 3 hours at 60mph. Obviously that’s not enough for most SU readers, who want less than 10 minutes and 4 hours at 75mph+, but for first-of-its-kind technology that actually exists today, it isn’t too shabby. There are already a number of other companies with similar plans, Better Place, NRG Energy, Ecotality and Coulomb to name a few, but it’s obvious that Tesla will have a serious presence along highways in major urban areas very soon.

Read moreWhat’s that Spaceship at the Rest Stop?

Saabrina Lives (in spirit, anyway)!

What an utter surprise today when I stumbled upon an abbreviated step-by-step history in a blog post from a man named Seth Leitman who, apparently, has successfully converted a Saab NG900 to electric drive. His car is very similar to Saabrina, one of our favorite subjects on SaabsUnited/TrollhattanSaab.
You may recall one of the sadder moments recorded on this site when Swade announced that Saabrina, Mark Ward’s 1995 Saab 900 SE, was destroyed by a fire in his garage. He had very nearly completed the conversion of the car to all-electric operation. I still admire Mr. Ward’s fastidious attention to detail.
In contrast, Mr. Leitman’s approach seems to be “let ‘er rip” — and get someone else to convert the car for you. In his case, he chose a local EV specialist to do the conversion.

saabunderhooddone seth leitman.jpg

The car uses what seems to be a readily available electric motor and a bank of lithium iron phosphate (a type of lithium ion) batteries. Lithium ion batteries are the type used in most modern electronics.
So, here’s the kicker. Mr. Leitman is offering a free ride in his Saab 900 electric for anyone in the New York City area. Anyone interested in doing so may contact him through his blog. If you do, please take a camera and chronicle the ride for the rest of us. I’m keenly interested in the how a Saab electric rides and drives.

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