An Update From Brandon On His Electric Saab 96

Posted on 16. Mar, 2010 by in 2010-2019

As we continue the topic of electrifying Saabs following the Boston-Power partnership, Saab History has recently received an update from frequenter, Brandon Hollinger of Pennsylvania. It was June of last year when we first heard about his project making headway with the conversion of his 1970 SAAB 96 to become fully electric.

Today, he’s refined the project and beautified his vehicle complete with “Electric” emblems and a new paint job, including special details such as stickers under the hood that read “high voltage”.

As this focus continues in the Saab community as seen with a number of individuals over the years, it’s also nice to see it really picking up speed. I’m sure that we’ll learn about more and more individuals taking it upon themselves to convert their Saabs to become fully electric.

Here’s Brandon’s update on this vehicle since we last covered it here on Saab History.

Thanks for your interest in the 96-volt SAAB 96 conversion! Here’s some random reflections:

The past year has been eye-opening as I test-piloted the “SAAB 96-V” over 5,000 petroleum-free miles. While the car honestly performed just as expected (outside of 2 minor human errors) the real surprise was I didn’t miss my other car at all. It seems people (I included) don’t really know how much they drive per day. The statistics are pretty consistent: 90% of US trips are less than 30 miles. With a range of about 50 miles provided by my 96-volt lead-acid battery pack I was able to do up to 3 days of commuting to and from work. With off-peak charging, I enjoyed discounted utility rates and it added only $10-15 to my monthly utility bill – another pleasant surprise. I’d use my gas-powered SAAB 900 Turbo maybe once or twice a month to do a longer journey. I’m now seriously considering taking that car off the road to save on insurance costs. I could use the saved money to rent a newer car for those few longer road trips and also avoid the costs of maintaining the 900. (easier said than done… as I do have an attachment to that car:) …and rent out the extra garage $pace as I’ve done in the pa$t! I do want to add that the numerous electric vehicles (EVs) now on their way to market will most likely offer 100 or more miles per charge or have a backup gas-powered generator for range extension: “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles” (PHEVs).

“But aren’t you just exchanging a tailpipe for a smokestack?”
This is a common question I’ve encountered at shows this past year and meeting people on the street constantly. While I think it’s best to seek sources of electricity that are cleaner than coal, my potentially coal-powered EV is still cleaner than it’s gas counterpart. One reason is efficiency. I’ve read that the internal combustion engine is around 20% efficient compared to 90% for electric motors. Therefore better use of the dirty fuel. Another interesting fact is power plants don’t ramp up and down their electricity production to match fluctuating demand. Rather they run at the same level, day and night, resulting in a huge excess of wasted electricity at night. I’ve confirmed this numerous times with my provider.

My main obstacles when driving my “lead sled” – reduction of range caused by long hills, highway miles, cold weather – will likely be remedied in 2012-13 when the batteries will be replaced by a lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack. This chemistry is proving itself in the industry with notable energy density, cycle life, a nearly level discharge curve and a fraction of the weight. It’s even heralded as better than the taboo nickel-metal-hydride cell technology GM sold to Texaco/Chevron about 8 years ago effectively killing it and all the cars running on it. [see the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car” for more on this]

It is almost laughable that someone who had never worked on a car can convert one to run on electricity and have it perform reliably and well enough to be his daily driver. WHY should this be the case? I wouldn’t build my own TV… or microwave oven…. If you consider the complexity of an internal combustion engine versus an electric motor, it DOES make sense. The electric power plant has one moving part which simplifies the building and maintaining in an extreme way. These open-source projects are now very accessible and I can’t wait to do another.

Conversion specifications, pictures and updates can be found at http://www.evalbum.com/2682

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3 Responses to “An Update From Brandon On His Electric Saab 96”

  1. sarah

    16. Mar, 2010

    this is so cool… open source cars!
    so saab. im not totally enthused and would really be interested in converting a 99 to EV.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Golfhunter

    18. Mar, 2010

    Fantastic project !!

    Reply to this comment
  3. socko

    04. Jan, 2011

    I now have a website to help document this and other EV projects.

    ampREVOLT.com

    Thanks for reading,
    Brandon

    Reply to this comment

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