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Volvo Shows a C30-Based Battery Car

Volvo has confirmed my earlier reporting that it has built prototypes of a battery electric vehicle based on the C30 coupe, with 130-mile range. Right now there are only one or two such battery cars, says Volvo spokesman Dan Johnston, but a decision on creating fleets of hundreds of them will be made in the fall or winter.

After avoiding comment, Volvo now says the electric C30 will be shown in mid-September at the company's Innovation for Life event following the Frankfurt auto show. Volvo has already committed to building a series-production plug-in hybrid for 2012, and has publicly shown prototypes of that (in the V70 wagon, with 31 miles of all-electric range).

The three existing V70 plug-in cars use batteries from U.S.-based Ener1 (recipient of a $118 million Department of Energy grant earlier this month). Since they share some architecture, the C30 battery car may also use Ener1 cells, but Volvo hasn't confirmed that.

The compact, lightweight and aerodynamic C30 makes a good platform for EVs. Volvo showed its C30-based ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept at Frankfurt two years ago, with wheel motors at all four corners and with both diesel and flexible-fuel engines. Here's how the ReCharge worked: The ReCharge reportedly had 62 miles of electric range. The wheel motors have proved troublesome. There's not sign of them in the electric C30, and they aren't likely to make it into the production plug-in hybrid either, says Johnston.

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