Volvo’s electric future driven Car Reviews by Car Enthusiast

22 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Volvo’s electric future driven Car Reviews by Car Enthusiast отключены
Electric Cars

| First Drive | Gothenburg, Sweden | Volvo C30 BEV prototype |

Like every other car manufacturer, Volvo is plugging into the idea of electric power. We visited Volvo’s test track to sample the battery electric car that could be in Volvo showrooms within five years.

In the Metal

At first glance Volvo’s future-looking prototype is nothing more than a stickered-up C30. But those stickers reveal that this is no ordinary C30. but a battery powered electric vehicle — or BEV for short. So under the familiar — DRIVe wheeled and amply liveried — C30 body is a pair of lithium ion battery packs and an electric motor.


What you get for your Money

Nothing at the moment. You’d need a huge cheque to get Volvo to part with this prototype vehicle — it’s just one of two in existence. However, the company is serious about production versions, but they’ll not be on the road in any significant numbers until mid-to-late next decade.

The two batteries are housed under the floor and in the tunnel were the exhaust would usually fit, this allowing the C30 BEV to offer the same crash protection as its conventionally powered siblings — this is a Volvo after all.

Officially it’ll cover around 100 miles on a full charge, but that’s calculated using the rather unrealistic NEDC test cycle. In the real world it’ll probably be closer to around 60-75 miles on a single charge. That range will inevitably rise in time, as battery technology improves, just as the eight-hour full recharging time will hopefully drop when Volvo’s electric cars finally reach consumers.

Driving it

Range anxiety isn’t an issue on Volvo’s short test track so driving the BEV is a real pleasure. It’s utterly silent, the only indication it’s actually switched on being via the instruments. Acceleration is brisk, with Volvo quoting a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds, but admitting that when fully charged and light of passengers it’ll manage a time a good bit quicker. As the battery deteriorates it’ll be closer to the quoted 10.5 seconds, though.

It’ll reach 85mph if you like too, but the batteries aren’t likely to last very long if you plan on doing so very often. No, Volvo anticipates owners using the BEV as an urban machine, a runabout that can tackle the average European round-trip commute of around 30-40 miles on a single charge.

IDEALE EV Electric Cars

Aside from the quietness it feels just like a conventional C30. Response to the accelerator is quick and although it feels a bit heavier (Volvo quotes about 100kg more than a conventional C30), there’s little of the heavy regenerative braking effect we’ve experienced in some other electric cars. Naturally it’s an automatic, so driving it couldn’t be simpler.

Worth Noting

The only real difference inside the BEV, aside from some of the information screens unique to the engineering prototype, is the dial replacing the rev counter. It swings in two directions, to the left when the BEV is coasting and regaining power, or to the right when you’re using it. In the middle of it there’s a ‘fuel’ gauge showing you how much energy is left in the battery. It all feels production ready, though costs are keeping it out of the hands of consumers presently. At today’s prices you’d need to spend in excess of Ј30,000 and perhaps closer to Ј40,000 for this fully electric machine.

Prices will come down though, Volvo stating that the batteries alone have dropped in price by 30 percent in the last six months and also pointing out that laptop batteries (which are effectively the same as those powering the BEV) used to cost around $1,000 a kWh compared to less than $250 today.

Summary

It’ll be a while before you can buy this car — actually its successor — with an electric powertrain. That wait will see prices drop further, the clarification of government subsidies, a clearer means of pricing charging rates from energy firms and better battery performance and packaging. As a glimpse into the future it’s certainly an interesting one, though even in five years’ time people are going to have to accept range compromises with full electric vehicles.

That explains why Volvo is also introducing plug-in diesel hybrids, which will be with us sooner and offer electric-only drive capability for around 30 miles before using the diesel engine. Expect them in showrooms by 2012 and a test drive up here much sooner.

Volvo C30 Electric
Volvo C30 Electric
Volvo C30 Electric

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