Volvo C30 electric car
Volvo C30 BEV prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volvo unleashed some big news at the Paris Motor Show. In case you missed it, that's when the automaker confirmed that the C30 battery electric vehicle (BEV) concept was ready to get its production groove on. Shortly thereafter, Volvo's Paul Gustavsson, the architect behind the company's electrification strategy, confirmed that the plug-in C30 will indeed hit the U.S. market. Volvo's first wave of electric C30s are tooling around Sweden and the initial reaction is reportedly quite positive.

Volvo's development and production of the C30 is humming along, albeit at a slow and deliberate pace. The automaker plans to lease 90 or so C30 BEVs to customers throughout Sweden and will closely watch how the vehicles cope with the rigors of real-world use. It will use this data to refine the technology before launching the vehicle to the public in 2013. This refinement, Volvo chief executive officer Stefan Jacoboy states, will lead to a product that, "sets the standard in the industry."

Additionally, Gustavsson claims that the battery-powered C30 is a no-compromise vehicle that, "offers the same comfort, the same space and the same safety as the C30." Safety is the backbone of Volvo, and the electric C30's crash test video speaks for itself. If the C30 electric is destined to "set the industry standard," then one could only hope that the automaker's upcoming plug-in hybrid, as well as its fuel cell range-extended electric vehicle prototype, raise the bar to new heights as well.

What, haven't you heard that Volvo is prototyping a fuel cell range extender for its C30 electric? No. That's okay, we'll fill you in. Volvo aims to have two working prototypes that utilize fuel cell technology to extend the range of its battery-powered C30. The prototypes, developed with assistance from Powercell Sweden AB, should hit the streets by 2012. Volvo anticipates that the fuel cell unit will provide the C30 with at least 155 miles of additional range. If all goes as planned, a production version could follow.

A Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric with a hydrogen fuel cell range extender, yeah, that's a vehicle with real potential to, "set the industry standard." Hit the jump for more on Volvo's plans to development range-extending fuel cell technology for the battery-powered C30. Hat tip to Roy!


Related GalleryBattery electric Volvo C30

[Source: Autopia, Volvo]


PRESS RELEASE

Volvo Cars starts development of fuel cells to extend the electric car's operating range


Volvo Cars is now taking the next step towards next-generation electric car technology. Backed by research support from the Swedish Energy Agency the company is initiating development of a fuel cell that can extend the electric car's operating range without any carbon dioxide emissions.

The aim is to have two prototype chassis based on the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.

"This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover before they need to be recharged. What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby.

Volvo Cars is working together with the company Powercell Sweden AB on this project. In the first phase, a preliminary study is being conducted into what is known as a Range Extender, which consists of a fuel cell with a reformer. The task of the reformer is to break down a liquid fuel, in this case petrol, and create hydrogen gas. In the fuel cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car's electric motor.

The technology generates electricity completely without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles. Due to the highly efficient process, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are significantly reduced compared with a conventional vehicle. The end products are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.

The technology also can be adapted for renewable fuels.

Significantly increased operating range
This technology is expected to increase the electric car's operating range by up to 250 kilometres - in addition to the range provided by the car's battery pack. The fuel cell industry expects that the cost efficiency will improve continuously through refined technology and large-scale production.

In the next phase, pending support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Cars and Powercell will produce two test cars based on the current Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric. Testing of the cars will begin in 2012.

"We have just taken the first steps and it is naturally too early to talk about market introduction of electric cars with Range Extenders. The industrial decision will come after we have learned more about fuel cells and the opportunities they offer," says Stefan Jacoby.