Volvo is currently testing a new fast-charger that is believed to have six times more power than traditional chargers. What prevents most people from buying electric cars are its long recharging times and its short driving range. For example, the Nissan Leaf could fully recharge from between seven and 21 hours.
But Volvo claims that the 440-volt, three-phase charger can fully charge its experimental C30 electric in only 90 minutes. Charging it for 30 minutes makes the car go for 50 miles.
The charger makes use of a 32-amp power supply. This is a considerable improvement from the 8-10 hours of charging when a standard European 220-volt socket is used on the Volvo C30. Volvo will conduct trials with the C30 electric and will set up the new fast-charger in small quantities.
Last fall, Volvo had issued about 250 C30 electric cars throughout Europe and China. The experimental car features an 111hp electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, providing a driving range of about 93 miles per charge. Volvo aims to take its new models in a different path and so the 2013 regular Volvo C30 hatchback will be the last generation to be offered.
In a statement, Volvo vice president of electric propulsion systems Lennart Stegland said that the user can ‘top up’ the battery pack with electricity one or more times during the day.” He added that with this fast-charging unit, potential customers would no longer have “range anxiety” since it’s so easy to recharge the car.
Another electric car firm, Tesla, aims to set up a new network of Supercharger stations to handle these same issues. Tesla will install the facilities in major highways so that owners get the chance to charge their cars for 30 minutes and give it a driving range of 120 miles.
Volvo revealed an electric car prototype in September 2009. The Volvo C30 BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) showing at Detroit’s 2010 North American International Auto Show brings Volvo one step closer in the development progression. It has both a completed interior and robust instrumentation, as well as an enhanced battery pack.
The initial prototype allowed Volvo to pinpoint the fundamental technology challenges, like battery bundling and safety matters. Volvo addressed these challenges with no compromises to the C30's trendy and fun personality. The electric C30 BEV appearing in Detroit is a much more well-rounded offering.
In 2010, the next stage is a series of factory-made test vehicles. Users will be selected to test drive the fleet during a two-year trial to provide Volvo with valuable information. This will be not only technical, but also behavioural, data.
The project is being supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, which is adding SEK 150 million to the funding.
Valuable field data
A genuine electric car will have different traits than an internal combustion car. Now the team of Volvo experts will be able to analyse how drivers deal with these differences.
The data from the testing will be invaluable in Volvo’s electric car development. It will also deliver vital input for infrastructure plans and help outline which features are required for rechargeable cars to become the most appealing choices in the long run.