Volvo Drives Into a Greener Future with the C30 E and V60 PHEV - VIDEO ENHANCED
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel
BERLIN - July 8, 2011: This past May, at the Michelin Bibendum Challenge, the international event for green mobility, Volvo had its first two models available for driving. They mark the company’s first steps towards a greener future.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to test drive a prototype of the electric C30 on the premises of the Volvo plant in Genk, Belgium. The C30 E made its world debut at the Detroit Auto Show in 2010.
• SEE ALSO: All Electric Volvo C30 Makes its Official Debut
In May, the Swedes shipped a close-to-production prototype to Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport, which was the stage of the 2011 Bibendum event.
Isak Olevic, Volvo’s commercial and business manager electric vehicles, said in Berlin: “This year, we will build a total of 250 units, which will go to the Dutch, Belgian, German, French and Swedish market. North America and China will get a test fleet in a later stage.”
Last month, the electric Volvo went into production and Dutch dealers will get a total of 30 units by the end of August. They will be available for lease, but the price has not yet been published (although for the Swedish market it has been fixed at 1,500 euros (US$ 2,000+) per month).
Mr. Olevic added: “The success of the C30 Electric mainly depends on the education of the dealers. Therefore, they will be trained for two weeks in Göteburg, Sweden. This means the management, sales people and the technicians.”
In January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volvo showed an electric C30 that had been crash tested. For the test, the battery pack had been fully loaded and after the 40 mph offset crash (under an angle from the front), it still was untouched and fully functioning.
Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby said that several crash tests had proven the importance of storing the battery pack in an area that is isolated from the car’s crash zones. “We focus on everyday traffic conditions and this way an EV can be as safe as a conventional car. The electric C30 is even better than the standard model, which secured 5 stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests.”
The C3 E has been thoroughly tested the model in several different stages. At a component lever, then for the whole systems and finally the complete car, first virtually on the computer and later in Volvo’s advanced crash-test center. The new model has also been tested under cold conditions at the Kiruna proving ground in the north of Sweden, with temperatures as low as -20° Celsius, to ensure the functioning of the lithium-ion battery pack.
Click PLAY to watch the Volvo C30 electric tested in rough winter conditions
Driving the C30 E at the fast track at Tempelhof was inspiring. The car gives a more solid feel than the standard model. With a battery pack of 660 lbs stored under the center console and beneath the luggage department, the weight distribution is considerably better.
The 111 hp strong electric motor delivers162 lb-ft of torque, good for propelling the C30 E in 4.5 seconds from zero to 31 mph..The top speed is 130 km/h “This is more important than the acceleration time from 0-60,” according to Mr. Olevic, “because you don’t do that often.” The C30 E reaches a top speed of 80 mph and its range is published at 102 miles. But Mr. Olevic volunteered that a range of 80 to 85 miles is more realistic.
Charging the 24 kW battery pack can be done via a standard 230 volt socket and takes 10 hours. Loading with 16 Amps instead of 10 Amps brings the charging time down to 7 hours.
Plug-in hybrid will arrive late 2012
In 2013, Volvo will also introduce the plug-in hybrid model of the V60. The station wagon gets a 215 hp 5 cylinder diesel engine, that drives the front wheels, as well as a 70 hp electric engine on the rear axle, good for a combined torque of 600 Nm, or 443 lb-ft. Apart from excellent safety and economical fuel consumption, the V60 hybrid will be able to pull trailers and provide excellent driving dynamics.
In 2006-2007, Volvo had initiated a hybrid project and decided to stick to the plan, even though the financial crisis meant a set back. In the meantime, better hybrid technology became available, which could be used in the new V60. The project is being developed in cooperation with energy supplier Vattenfall.
“We started with an electric rear axle and then combined it with the 1.9-liter engine. Its acceleration time was quick as well with 6.9 seconds from 0-62 mph. It was accomplished in the European cycle for hybrids, which means that up till 31 mph the car may only use the electric motor and the battery has to be fully loaded.”
A cold climate, like that of Scandinavia, and battery packs are no close friends. “The ideal temperature is 68 degrees,” Mr. Olevic said. “Therefore, plug-in technology was the logical choice. In Sweden we use pre heating systems, which increases the use of energy, as does the fact that also the coolant should be warmed up. For us the key issue was to develop a car without any compromises. That means it should be able to tow a trailer, haul luggage, offer comfort for the passengers and – last but not least – should be fun to drive.”
Click PLAY to watch the Volvo V60 Plug In Diesel Hybrid promo video
Several fast laps at the test track set up at the former airport proved the potential of the V60 hybrid. The Volvo provides a familiar feel in the driver seat without little lamps in the IP to remind you of its ‘green’ nature.