Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Electric Vehicles, or EVs, are the future. Or so the automakers say. And they would be correct, if it wasn’t for a significant disadvantage over petrol or diesel powered models: their abysmal range which makes them suitable only for limited city use.
Volvo is taking measures to solve this problem and make its EVs attractive to the public by adding an extra 1,000 km (621 miles) to their range. The solution, which has also been adopted by other models such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Audi A1 E-Tron concept, is the addition of a “range extender” internal combustion engine.
The project, which has the support of both the EU and the Swedish Energy Agency, has three possible combos and tests will begin in the first quarter of 2012. The first two are based on the C30 Electric, in which the battery pack has been reduced in order to make room for the fuel tank. All three concepts can run on either petrol or ethanol (E85) and emit just 50g of CO2/km, or even less.
In the first concept, Volvo added a 3-cylinder petrol engine with 60HP under the boot floor and a 40-liter (10.5 gallons) fuel tank. The engine is used primarily to power the 40 kW generator that drives the 111HP electric motor, while the driver has the option to let the generator charge the battery, increasing the range on electricity alone. The 110 km (68 miles) range of the C30 Electric on battery power alone is increased by an additional 1,000 km (621 miles).
In the second concept, the C30 Electric is fitted with a more powerful 3-cylinder turbocharged engine with 190HP (at least that’s what Volvo claims on the release) at the rear and differs from the first in that the two engines are working in parallel, with the electric driving the front wheels and the internal combustion one the rear via a 6-speed auto gearbox.
The car can also run on electricity alone. The electric motor is the same 111HP unit, and the combined output reaches 300HP, while the range is extended from 75 km (47 miles) on the battery pack to more than 1,000 km (621 miles).
The third concept is based on the V60 estate, and both engines are placed under the bonnet. It uses the same 111HP electric motor and 190HP turbocharged engine as the second C30 concept, with a larger (45 lt) fuel tank. The 3-cylinder either drives the front wheels or charges the battery pack when needed. On electricity alone its range is 50 km (31 miles), while with the range extender, like the other two, it exceeds 1,000 km (621 miles).


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