Pure-Electric Volvo C30 to Debut at Detroit Show, Trial Runs Start in 2011

Volvo is the second automaker after BMW and its Concept ActiveE to announce the debut of a pure-electric model based on a production car at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show next January. And like BMW, Volvo plans to build a test fleet of at least 50 plug-in C30s, which will be used in real-life traffic from 2011.

The Swedes first showed us an electric C30 prototype in September 2009. Aside from being based on the facelift C30, the Detroit Show model has been further refined and now features both a complete interior and full instrumentation, as well as enhanced battery packaging.

"The first prototype helped us identify the main technological challenges, such as battery packaging and safety issues." said Lennart Stegland, Director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles.

"We have addressed these challenges without compromising the C30's cool and fun-to-drive personality. I am very happy with the result. The electric C30 in Detroit is a much more complete product," Stegland concluded.

The latest plug-in C30 uses an electric motor fitted under the bonnet while the Lithium-Ion batteries (24 kWh) are installed in the propshaft tunnel and in the space normally occupied by the fuel tank, outside the passenger compartment and away from the deformations zones for safety reasons.

The Lithium-Ion batteries that can be recharged via either a regular household power socket or special roadside charging stations. The Swedes said that a full recharge takes about eight hours

The three-door hatchback has a top speed of about 130 km/h or 81 mph, while Volvo said that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (96km/h) in less than 11 seconds. The car's driving range is up to 150 km or 94 mile, which Volvo claims covers the daily transport needs of more than 90 percent of all motorists in Europe.

Aside from the special graphics, colors and wheels, the electric C30 looks no different on the outside than a regular C30 while inside, the most obvious changes concern the new trim, revised instrument panel and the new gear selector.