Volvo, the Swedish automaker is developing three different range-extending electric vehicle prototypes to investigate the most effective ways of implementing hybrid technology.
Like hybrid vehicles, range extender electric cars have both an engine and an electric motor. Unlike hybrid vehicles, in range extender electric vehicles, the combustion engine does not drive the wheels directly; instead, it starts up only to generate electricity to recharge the vehicle’s battery. This is known as a series connected setup.
“This is an exciting expansion of our increasing focus on electrification,” Derek Crabb, vp of powertrain engineering, said in a statement. “Battery cost and size mean that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. With the range extender, the electric car has its effective range increased by a thousand kilometers, yet with carbon dioxide emissions below or way below 50 g/km.”
All three include a very compact three cylinder gasoline engine that can run on either E85 ethanol or petrol. Two of the concepts use the C30 Electric as their base: one with a series-connected extender (i.e. a locomotive) and one with a parallel-series extender (more like a traditional gas/electric hybrid). The third concept is based on the V60 and uses a parallel-series extender.
According to the automaker, the simplest of the concepts is a series-hybrid Volvo C30 with a 60-horsepower engine. The engine drives a 40-kilowatt generator that provides juice to the 111 horsepower electric motor when the battery winds down.
Technical concept II is the Volvo C30 with parallel-connected range extender. In this concept, the turbocharged combustion engine produces 140kW of power. The rear-mounted engine primarily drives the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Lastly, the third concept will be based on the V60 and have a 190 PS (140 kW / 187 hp) turbocharged three-cylinder engine, a 111 PS (82 kW / 110 hp) electric motor, a generator and a two-stage automatic transmission. At speeds less than 50 km/h (31 km/h), the vehicle is powered exclusively by the electric motor.