2010 Paris Auto Show: Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric

2010 Paris Auto Show: Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric

New Volvo Cars president and CEO Stefan Jacoby made his first official appearance in the position at the Paris Motor Show, introducing the new V60 sport wagon, along with performance-themed R-Design versions of the S60 and V60—and, surprisingly, emphasizing the importance of electrification in the brand's future.

"We will set a standard in the industry," said Jacoby, noting that the future of the brand lies in electric cars.

That's quite an about face from the Jacoby of a year or two. When he was at Volkswagen, he became known for being outspoken against electric vehicles and criticizing the cost and complexity of extended-range vehicles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Last year Jacoby told The Car Connection that he didn't see EVs becoming a significant portion of the market even within the next decade, and at one point last year he remarked to Automotive News that EVs won't be viable for 35 years.

It's a turnaround for Jacoby, but not for Volvo. The C30 DRIVe first made its debut as a concept car back in 2008, and is a further development of the Volvo C30 electric model shown at this year's Detroit show. It will be produced beginning in early 2011 and will be released to limited test fleets in the U.S. as well as Europe and China.

The DRIVe is a pure battery-electric car that can go more than 90 miles per charge. Batteries are packaged at the middle of the vehicle, removed from crash zones, and Volvo has put extra thought into side-impact protection on the DRIVe. There's also a highway driving mode without brake regeneration.

In 2012 Volvo will also introduce a plug-in hybrid, combining all-electric power with a diesel-hybrid powertrain to extend range. Somewhat like the Volt.