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Mike Stevens | May 26, 2011

Saab has kicked off limited production of its all-electric 9-3 ePower test fleet, despite continued uncertainty surrounding the company's financial state.

Tight funds and supply hold-ups are understood to have temporarily suspended production of the 9-5 sedan and SportCombi wagon, leaving only the 9-4X SUV in ongoing production.

While Saab and its investors nut out the company's future (Chinese dealership chain Pangda Automobile Trade Co earlier this month agreed to secure a 24 percent stake in Spyker, pumping US$92 million into company coffers), the Swedish brand is pushing forward with its electric vehicle development program.

Limited to just 70 cars, the 9-3 ePower test fleet is being hand-built in a special facility at Saab's Trollhattan plant. Soon, the prototypes will undergo testing with a select group of company and private drivers across Europe.

2011 saab 9 3 e power test fleet factory 08

In concept form, the 9-3 ePower is driven by a 138kW electric motor driving the front wheels. The motor draws energy from a 35.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack located in the space normally reserved for the regular 9-3's exhaust and fuel tank.

Saab lists a respectable 9.5 second run to 100km/h for the 9-3 ePower, with a top speed of 150km/h and a driving range of around 200km.

As for an all-new 9-3, that's scheduled to arrive in 2012 - although the outcome of the company's current investment talks may have some effect on scheduling.

Spyker and Saab boss Victor Muller confirmed earlier this year that the new model will be based on a heavily-modified version of GM's Epsilon I platform, the same platform that underpins the current 9-3.

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