All-electric technology was a big trend at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Among the many automakers dipping their toes into this burgeoning technology is Volvo. The public got its first look at the fruits of Volvo's electric engineering last week with the introduction of the Volvo Electric C30.
From tip to tail, the plug-in electric retains the practical appeal of the Volvo brand. The clean hatchback body style is intended to carry plenty of cargo and comfortably haul up to four passengers. Envisioned as an around-town commuter, the C30 electric prototype is also estimated to deliver a driving range of 93 miles on a single charge.
As Chelsea Sexton, advisory board member for Plug-In America (an electric-car advocacy group) puts it, Volvo's first attempt at an electric car is "uber-pragmatic" and "absolutely something people will want."
Though not intended to be the electric car for the masses, Volvo did go to great lengths to ensure the model would be an attractive option for the average car driver. The overall design of the vehicle is essentially a normal Volvo C30 with a few styling tweaks. For example, the front fascia has been augmented with a more swept-back look to provide a sexier overall appearance. An enlarged rear spoiler and undertray also help distinguish the C30 Electric from the conventional model.
Under the hood, the Volvo C30 Electric houses an electric motor that peaks at 84 kilowatts and 113 horsepower. Those numbers add up to a maximum of 81 mph, and have been intentionally limited electronically in order to deliver consistent performance and maximum driving range.
The Electric C30 plugs directly into a standard 110-volt outlet and offers a complete charge in about eight hours.
So when will you see these all-electric Volvos outside of a showroom? Well, if you're lucky you might spot one of the 50 test fleet models that will be on the road for real-world testing sometime next year. And if you're really lucky, you might even be one of the "selected customers" to actually get to lease one of these 50 models.
As far as mass-production goes, don't count on it for this version of a Volvo electric. While Volvo has announced plans to sell an all-electric model in 2013, Lennart Stegland, president of Volvo's Special Car Vehicles division, promises the eventual production vehicle will be "designed from the ground up."