Saab begins 9-3 EV pilot productionThu, 10 Apr 2014 08:28:00 EST
To say that Saab has had a tough time lately would be like saying that it's been a little colder than usual this winter. After General Motors finally gave up and sold it to Spyker in 2010, Saab declared bankruptcy the following year. GM successfully blocked Spyker from selling Saab to Chinese automaker Youngman the following year, but ultimately it ended up in the hands of another Chinese consortium called NEVS. Standing as it does for National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the new owners promised not only to restart production of the long-suffering 9-3, but also to turn it into an electric vehicle. And that's just what it's doing.
The latest news coming out of Sweden indicates that NEVS/Saab has started building the first examples of the 9-3 EV. These first 200 or so examples are set to be shipped off to Qingdao – the Chinese city that is home to the Tsingtao brewery, hosted the sailing components of the 2008 summer games on Beijing, was supposed to host an IndyCar race in 2012 before it was canceled, and also itself just happens to own 22 percent of NEVS.
These first EVs have their batteries mounted down low in the chassis for a low center of gravity and have a range of about 20 miles on a full charge. That's absolutely paltry compared to the other EVs on the market: a Nissan Leaf will travel more than four times that distance, and a Tesla Model S will go ten times farther on a charge.
Hopefully once production ramps up Saab and NEVS will have better battery tech on their hands. That, and maybe a newer car to install them in: the current Saab 9-3 (pictured in the updated image gallery above) has been on the market since 2003, outlasting any of its GM Epsilon platform-mates.
By Noah Joseph
See also: Petrolicious keeps our love of the Saab Sonett aflame, 2014 Saab 9-3 officially relaunched, reborn, Saab 9-3 production has restarted.