Volvo showed us its C30 Electric zero-emissions hatchback at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show back in January, which included a crashed example with the car's expensive battery pack fully intact, but now the automaker has confirmed that customer leases are about to start. Unfortunately, those leases are only scheduled to begin in Europe as Volvo has no plans to bring it over to the U.S. anytime soon.
It doesn’t matter too much as the initial customer leases will mainly be provided to companies, authorities and governmental bodies. The markets Volvo has on its list include Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.
Tests on a fleet of about 50 cars have been conducted since fall of last year, mainly internally at Volvo. The automaker now plans to build a further 250 examples between now and 2012, possibly more if market interest takes off.
The electric hatchbacks are built at the same plant in Ghent, Belgium responsible for the regular C30. The cars are then transported to Gothenburg, Sweden for the installation of their electric motors, batteries and other model-specific electronics.
The batteries are installed where the fuel tank normally sits and also in a special compartment in the car's central tunnel. As a result, the luggage compartment is unchanged. The car is recharged from a regular household power socket, and takes about seven hours for a full charge of its 24 kWh lithium-ion batteries.
Initial testing has shown that the car can travel up to 93 miles on a single charge. Accelerating from 0-62 mph takes about 11 seconds and top speed has been limited to 81 mph.
The first leased Volvo C30 Electrics will be delivered to customers at the end of summer.
For those readers outside the U.S., you can catch a first drive report of the car over at our sister site AllCarsElectric.