Volvo wants in on the EV Business, Starts Developing C30 DRIVe Electric with Fuel-Cell Range Extender

With even the likes of Porsche going green – not to mention the Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan Leaf, it's no surprise that Volvo wants a piece of the "Look at me, I'm saving the planet!" action.

They partnered up with Powercell Sweden AB (with backing from the Swedish Energy Agency) and hope that the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric will be ready for testing on the road by 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" Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby said. "What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas".

The project is in its early stages, the focus being on the range of the car. And it's no surprise, as no EV can stand a chance these days if it can't go at least 40-60 miles on one charge.

To achieve this, Volvo is cooking up -wait for it- a Range Extender. A reformer, tasked with breaking down liquid fuel and creating hydrogen gas. This gas then goes into the fuel cell and gets converted to electrical energy powering the motor.

The advantage of the process is that it's creating electricity without any emissions of carbon oxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles whatsoever. On other thing is that the reformer can just as easily break down renewable fuels, like ethanol.

Volvo expects the Range Extender to, well, extend the range of the car by up to 250 kilometers (155 miles), in addition to the range provided by the battery pack.

By Csaba Daradics