Unlike so many other electric vehicles introduced at the Paris Motor Show and throughout the year, the Saab 9-3 ePower doesn't look like its vanity plate should read "Buck Rogers," and it isn't powered by dark matter or black holes or Neptunian vapor. It's a 9-3 SportCombi with a plug in the back. That's all.
But that means a lot for Saab. The ePower is a testbed for a 70-car fleet that will be evaluated next year in Sweden in preparation for a production electric vehicle. The aim is a 120-mile range in a car that provides real-world wagon convenience. Up front is a 184-horsepower electric motor, 26 hp less than the ICE in the production 2.0T, powered by a 35 kW lithium-ion battery pack. That gets the estate from zero to 62 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds and on to a 90-mph top speed.
Trials in Sweden will put the air-cooled batteries' 30-degree Celsius operating temperature to the test, which Saab claims is ten degrees colder than other battery packs can manage. The 70 families invited to drive the car over the next two years will put its other attributes to the test. If all goes well, Saab wants to turn the knowledge it gains into a high-performance electric vehicle. There's more to know in the press release after the jump, and plenty of high-res images in the gallery below.