Born and raised in the cold Scandinavian winters, Volvo Car Corporation builds electric vehicles for all climates.
The C30 Electric features unique technology that promotes daily use in subzero temperatures without compromising driving properties or occupant comfort.
"Our basic view is that the owner of an electric vehicle shouldn't have to sacrifice any of the qualities he or she expects from a luxury car. Our aim is to create innovative solutions that make electric car ownership smooth and easy in all conditions," says Lennart Stegland, Vice President Electric Propulsion Systems at Volvo Car Corporation.
Keeping the batteries in good condition and the passenger compartment comfortably warm in subzero climate requires a lot of energy.
Since the operating range becomes shorter if this energy is taken from the car's battery pack, Volvo Car Corporation decided to work out a more efficient and flexible solution.
In the C30 Electric, there is no need to waste power from the healthy, fully charged battery to keep the passenger compartment pleasantly warm.
Smart climate system
The Volvo C30 Electric is equipped with a sophisticated climate system with technical solutions cooperating in order to tackle three different challenges:
- Supplying the passengers with heating or cooling.
- Warming or cooling the battery pack when necessary.
- Cooling the electric motor and the power electronics.
The climate system can be activated both during charging and driving.
Preconditioning - and unique monitoring
The Volvo C30 Electric can be preconditioned for the drive when it is being charged. The preconditioning timer is programmed via the car's menu settings. When activated, an immersion heater (6 kW) uses power from the wall socket for warming up the coolant in the climate system.
The heating is used for maintaining the battery in good working condition - and for pre-heating the passenger compartment.
Volvo Car Corporation has installed a unique monitoring system to safeguard the lifespan of the battery pack. During charging, the battery pack is heated automatically when the temperature reaches - 15° C in the core of the battery.
If the car is parked without charging possibilities, the automatic battery heating begins at -19° C in order to keep the battery in efficient working condition.
The passenger compartment can be preheated with a Fuel Operated Heater if the charge cable is not plugged in.
"Pre-conditioning in -10° Celsius extends the operating range with ten kilometres compared to a "cold" start where battery capacity must be used for rapid heating," says Lennart Stegland.
Fuel heater available
After preconditioning, the journey starts in a pleasant indoor climate. The driver can choose in the car's menu system how to heat the passenger compartment during the journey:
- With the Auto Heating mode "on" a Fuel Operated Heater (5 kW) - powered by bio ethanol (petrol system on markets where ethanol is unavailable) from a 12-litre tank - is activated automatically to provide heating during the drive. The filler cap is located where the fuel filler cap is located in a conventional Volvo C30.
- If the driver chooses Auto Heater mode "off", the electric immersion heater and an electric 1kW PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) heater co-operate to maintain a comfortable cabin climate.
During shorter trips on a moderately cold days electricity from the battery can be used to power the climate system. This maintains the C30 Electric's zero emission capacity, but the operating range will be somewhat shorter.
"Unlike most electric car models on the market, the C30 Electric driver doesn't have to sacrifice a generous operating range to creating a comfortable climate even in extreme winter temperatures," adds Lennart Stegland. "The climate unit is programmed to suit the trip. The fuel heater is used when battery capacity is needed for maximum mobility."
Rapid heating if necessary
If the car has been parked without pre-conditioning possibilities, the three heating sources cooperate in order to rapidly de-ice the windows and warm up the passenger compartment.
With the electric heater, immersion heater and fuel heater activated at the same time, the desired temperature is reached in a few minutes.
The heating sources cooperate in order to achieve optimum balance between comfort and operating range. The two electrical units are switched off automatically when they are no longer needed - leaving the main responsibility for the long-term heating to the fuel heater.
Rough winter testing
Volvo Car Corporation's requirements on the C30 Electric are just as stringent as on all other Volvo models and the battery-powered car is exposed to the same test regime.
When it comes to cold climate, the car has been exposed to very rough conditions in order to ensure that the sophisticated technology works smoothly in temperatures as low as -30°C.
"Our uncompromising attitude includes that the C30 Electric must perform as intended when driving, parking and charging in a variety of conditions, from normal to very cold or hot. The Arctic part of Sweden is the perfect place to do sub-zero temperature testing," says Lennart Stegland.