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Volvo goes electric with new C30 BEV project

September 17, 2009 |  1:03 pm


Today, every car company has a different green strategy, and in the last few years at Volvo the focus has been on combustion-based fuels, namely bio-ethanol and clean diesel.

In fact, the company has been so dedicated to bio-ethanol that they threw a couple of corn mash-powered C30s into the World Touring Car Championship. Yes, you heard that right -- the world's safest automaker went racing to promote ethyl alcohol-burners. In a series that garners less media coverage than the World Rally Championship and has about the same level of significance in the world of motorsports that Jimmy Fallon has within the late night television lineup. In short, it may not have been the best eco-friendly promotional move.

So Volvo is looking to go electric, something that us diesel-phobic North Americans should quite like. An all-electric, zero C02 setup, this new C30 BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) comes as a precursor to Volvo's planned 2012 introduction of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Maximum range is 150 kilometers (just over 90 miles), while maximum speed is limited to 130 kph (80 mph). Basically, it's a city car meant for traveling short distances, and with its quirky hatch styling it's a real competitor for BMW's Mini E, of which 250 are currently undergoing trial leases in Southern California (at a very pricey $820 per month).

Conveniently, and unlike the Mini, the C30 BEV takes about eight hours to recharge via a regular household power system. Regular in Sweden at least. We're talking 230 volts, 16 amps.

Volvos being Volvos, safety comes first. The batteries have been placed within the transmission tunnel and under the chassis where the gas tank would normally be located in order not to compromise crumple zones. As a result, the C30 BEV remains every bit as safe as its petrol-powered brethren. But with a 0-60 time of 11 seconds, probably not nearly as fun. Mostly, it's just a case study for future electric vehicles, and there are no plans for a production model.

-- Brian Alexander

Brian Alexander is a staff writer at

Photo: Volvo C30 BEV. Credit: Volvo Cars