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Battery from Westborough firm will power new all-electric Saab

SAAB said it will debut its first all-electric car at the Paris auto show. SAAB said it will debut its first all-electric car at the Paris auto show.
By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / September 18, 2010

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The Swedish automaker Saab Automotive AB is about to unveil its first all-electric vehicle, which is powered by a battery from Boston-Power Inc. of Westborough.

The Saab 9-3 ePower sport wagon will debut Sept. 30 at the Paris Auto Show. “I am absolutely thrilled,’’ said Boston-Power chief executive Christina Lampe-Onnerud, who said her company’s battery will give the car exceptional performance. “This car has 27 percent more driving range per weight and volume than any other [electric] car,’’ she said.

Saab, formerly owned by General Motors Corp., was sold earlier this year to Spyker Cars of the Netherlands. The company plans to produce 70 of the 9-3 ePowers for use in researching the design of future electric cars. The company will test the vehicles in Sweden over the next two years, but Lampe-Onnerud said that Saab has promised to send her one.

The ePower is a standard Saab 9-3 model with the gasoline engine and drivetrain removed. Instead, it is fitted with a 184-horsepower electric motor to drive the vehicle’s front wheels, along with a Boston-Power lithium-ion battery pack. Saab expects the ePower to travel up to 124 miles on a single charge. The car will accelerate from zero to 62 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 93 miles per hour. Lampe-Onnerud said the car’s recharging speed would depend on the kind of recharging equipment used. But she said the Boston-Power battery is capable of charging to full power in an hour, reaching 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes.

In June, Boston-Power said it plans to double its workforce both in Massachusetts, where it had 110 workers, and abroad, where it has 400 workers, mostly in Taiwan. It also said it plans to build a battery factory in either Europe or China.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.