Volvo will launch its full-electric C30 in early 2011

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 1, 2010

Volvo Cars unveiled the latest next-generation vehicle -- the Volvo C30 -- during the Detroit Motor Show held in January 2010. This battery and electric powered model was first displayed in 2009, showing the brand’s current development process when it comes to an electric prototype that could be driven. The C30 has a new battery that has better packaging, with full instrumentation, and complete interior.

The C30 is electric but it has several similarities with the standard Volvo C30. It has four seats and offers the same features in terms of comfort, safety, and space. According to Lennart Stegland, who is Director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles, the first prototype ensured that the brand would be able to determine what the technological challenges were, especially on safety issues and battery packaging. Stegland related that they have managed to address these different challenges without the need to compromise the C30’s personality.

The electric version of the C30 presented during the show is therefore a complete product, Stegland added. The next phase involved conducting a series of tests on the factory-built versions. The company selected different users that got the chance to drive Volvo’s test fleet for a two-year trial period that started in 2011. The purpose was to be able to gain the needed input in both the technical aspect and the behavioural aspect too.

In addition, the project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency with a SEK150 million contribution. A car that has an internal combustion engine has different attributes compared to one that runs on pure electricity. By having the test runs, the company’s experts would be able to know how the selected users were able to manage these differences. Stegland said that the data retrieved will give the company the needed information to help in the development of its electric cars.

Furthermore, Stegland added that it would also give the necessary input that the brand will need for the infrastructure and help define which services will be needed to make electric cars the first choice in future transport. One of the clear differences between the electric version and the standard one is related to the new instruments, particularly the gauges and graphics.

The instrument panel is user-friendly and the display is limited to the current road speed and the amount of energy consumed. There are other new symbols in numerical form integrated like the gauge of the battery charge status in addition to many other information. Another difference is the driving experience.

The electric C30 does not have any gears and with the motor’s power delivered in a seamless manner, the car can immediately get the full power needed. It can cruise silently on the road, making it a very special experience. Stegland shared that this is because power is provided right away.

Stegland added that the company took its time to make sure that the transmission provided the needed safety and comfort for the driver while ensuring that the battery is working at its optimum regardless of the speed.

The electric C30 has no emissions compared to the regular model. Due to the electric motor, the energy consumption is merely a quarter compared to the one that runs on fossil fuels. This energy efficiency means that the demand for electric cars will expectedly increase given that the price of fuel will rise and the standard for lower CO2 emission will become even more stringent.

The C30 displayed during the Detroit show makes use of Lithium-Ion batteries which can be recharged in two ways: through a power socket in the house or at special charging stations found on the roadside. Fully-charging the battery would need around eight hours. When renewable electricity is the one used to charge the car, the total CO2 emissions is almost non-existent.

When fully charged, the battery allows a top speed of 81 mph with 0 to 60 mph acceleration in barely 11 seconds. Maximum range is estimated to reach a maximum of 150 kilometers. This means that it can meet the daily transport needs of around 90% of motorists in the European continent.

While the electric motor is placed beneath the bonnet, the 24 kWh batteries have been installed in the car’s propshaft tunnel plus in the area where the fuel tank is placed. Due to this, it is well beyond the passenger compartment and away from any of the deformation zone.

Volvo Cars Senior Safety Advisor Thomas Broberg disclosed that the batteries are encapsulated with the structure that surrounds it having been reinforced. Broberg added that this symbolizes another important challenge when it comes to manufacturing the safest cars.

Broberg assured however that the new Volvo is just as safe as all of its other models since it has the same standards as it relates to driving, ownership, and even protection when an accident occurs. There are other factors that make electric cars appealing.

According to Paul Gustavsson, Volvo Cars Director of Electrification Strategy, the goal is for consumers to feel that electric cars are attractive to own and drive. Electric cars must not only be safe and comfortable, but must give the same performance as cars that use other sources of power, Gustavsson added.

The company though continues to trust this technology and with field tests being conducted, it hopes to show that there is a great market potential for electric cars, Gustavsson shared. Having an attractive car is never enough, Gustavsson said, as a system of subsidies is needed to ensure that the rather expensive battery technology is made affordable for many buyers.

The brand is still in its journey on the goal of zero emissions and it hopes that authorities and the whole of society will be there to support them in the "Drive Towards Zero", Gustavsson concluded.

Press Release


Volvo Cars will unveil the next-generation battery electric powered Volvo C30 at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2010. The C30 on display will present a step further in the development process from the driveable electric prototype which was presented in September 2009. The new battery electric C30 features a complete interior and full instrumentation, as well as enhanced battery packaging. The electric C30 looks like a regular Volvo C30 and offers the same safety, comfort, space and four seats as the standard car.

"The first prototype helped us identify the main technological challenges, such as battery packaging and safety issues. We have addressed these challenges without compromising the C30's personality. I am very happy with the result. The electric C30 in Detroit is a much more complete product," says Lennart Stegland, Director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles.

The next step in the development process is a factory-built series of test cars. Selected users will drive the test fleet during a two-year trial period beginning in 2011 in order to provide Volvo Cars with valuable experience - not just technical but also behavioral. The Swedish Energy Agency is supporting the project by contributing SEK 150 million towards its funding.
Valuable field data
A pure electric car has different characteristics compared to a car with an internal combustion engine and the test fleet will give Volvo experts the opportunity to study how users handle these differences.

"Our test fleet data will be valuable in Volvo Cars' development of electric cars. It will also provide crucial input for the infrastructure planners and help define which services are needed to make rechargeable cars the most attractive choice in the future," says Lennart Stegland.

New instruments and graphics
The electric C30 looks like a regular Volvo C30 and offers the same safety, comfort, space and four seats as the standard car. The most obvious difference inside the car is the new instruments - the gauges and graphics are different to those in a conventional Volvo. The user-friendly combined instrument shows only road speed and energy consumption. However, it also integrates a number of new symbols such as a gauge for battery charge status and other relevant information for this type of vehicle. 

The driving experience is also different to that in a conventional car. The electric C30 has no gears and the motor's power is delivered seamlessly, with full power available immediately. 

"Sailing along almost silently is a very special experience. The power is there instantaneously. We need to spend a lot of time verifying a transmission system that is both comfortable and safe for the driver to handle and at the same time utilizes the battery's capacity optimally at different speeds," says Lennart Stegland.

Like a regular C30 - but with no emissions
An electric motor uses about one-quarter as much energy as an engine running on fossil fuels. This superior energy efficiency suggests that interest in electric cars will increase as fuel prices rise and demands for low CO2 emissions become increasingly stringent.

The Volvo C30 shown in Detroit is powered by Lithium-Ion batteries that can be recharged via either a regular household power socket or special roadside charging stations. Charging the battery fully takes about eight hours. If the car is recharged with renewable electricity, CO2 emissions could be almost zero in the well-to-wheel perspective.

Top speed with a fully charged battery pack is about 81 mph. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes less than 11 seconds. The car's range is up to 150 kilometres. This covers the daily transport needs of more than 90 percent of all motorists in Europe.

As safe as all other Volvos
The electric motor is fitted under the bonnet while the batteries (24 kWh) are installed in the propshaft tunnel and in the space normally occupied by the fuel tank, outside the passenger compartment and away from the deformations zones.

"What is more, they are well encapsulated and the structure around them has been reinforced. Electric cars represent yet another interesting challenge in our dedication to building the world's safest cars. An electrically powered Volvo must be as safe as all other new Volvos. And the very same standards also apply to ownership, driving and protection in the event of an accident," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor at Volvo Cars.

Market prospects for electric power
When it comes to electric-only cars, there are several factors that determine their appeal in the future.

"The consumers must feel that this type of car is attractive both to drive and own. That is why electric cars have to be as comfortable and safe and offer the same sort of performance as cars with other power sources," says Paul Gustavsson, Director of Electrification Strategy at Volvo Cars.

He continues: "We believe in this technology and our field test aims to demonstrate that electric cars have considerable market potential. However, offering an attractive car is not enough. What is also needed initially is a system of subsidies to make the electric car's expensive battery technology financially viable for the car buyers. We hope that the authorities and the rest of the society will follow Volvo Cars in our "Drive Towards Zero" - Volvo Cars' journey towards zero emissions."

Electric C30 Technical specifications
Car model:
Volvo C30 - full four seater
Main engine:
Electric engine 40/82KW
Power output:
Electric engine 82kW, 111 bhp
Acceleration 0-100 km/h:
10.5 seconds
Charging duration:
Charging via standard power socket, 230 V, 16 ampere: < 8 hours
Range on electric power:
150 kilometres (NEDC cycle)
Battery energy content:
24 kWh nominal energy, of which 22.7 kWh used to power the car
Battery weight:
280 kg
Carbon dioxide emissions (tailpipe):

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