Volvo is the latest manufacturer to make an electric vehicle (EV) announcement by unveiling an EV version of the C30 at the EnerDel facility in Indiana. The thing that makes the timing of the Volvo C30 EV more interesting is the feature that seems to directly answer the cold weather range problems we talked about yesterday in the MINI E. Yes, Volvo has added a ethanol heater to its EV, which it says will reduce range fade in colder environments.
2010 Volvo C30
Basically, Volvo’s Director of Special Vehicles says that in cold weather an EV will lose somewhere between 35-40 percent of its range if you use the battery power to not only run the heater put propel the car. This would explain the range fade that the Editor of our counter parts over at GreenCarReport.com experiences when driving his MINI E in New York winters. Volvo’s solution (at an opportune time) is to have an ethanol heater that has a capacity of about six kilowatts. The heater will heat the interior of the vehicle allowing the electricity from the batteries to be used solely for mobility.
2010 Volvo C30
Our partners over at GreenCarReports.com have brought up the point that for the U.S. market ethanol is only available in certain areas. To illustrate the point, I know of only a handful of stations in Denver, Colorado that actually have ethanol available. They believe that Volvo could easily transition the fuel heating system to diesel or gasoline and we agree. This does bring up another question—can Volvo call the C30 EV a “zero-emissions” vehicle if it has a fuel-powered heater?
Bottom line—We like the innovative thinking and this could be a good solution to the cold weather problem, but what happens when you have to run the headlights, wipers, radio, heated seats and someone has there phone charging in the electric port all at the same time? Does that mean you might only make it halfway home from your destination? Food for thought.
Be sure to check out our recent coverage of the MINI E and the Better Place EV funding.
[Source: CleanTech and AutoBlogGreen]