Volvo C30 Rear Scenic
9:00 PM | November 21 2021

Model Retrospective: 2011 Volvo C30 Electric

Volvo Cars’ industry-leading move towards an all-electric vehicle line-up began exactly a decade ago with a limited-run, rechargeable version of its stylish compact hatchback.
The Volvo C30 Electric released 10 years ago was the precursor to Volvo Cars’ ambitious, industry-leading electrification strategy.
 
Built in limited volume for selected European customers, the Electric was as well-equipped, comfortable, sporty, and safe as the standard C30 three-door hatchback yet offered the driver a range of up to 150 kilometres per charge with almost zero carbon dioxide emissions.
 
If recharged with renewable energy – such as wind power or hydropower – the C30 Electric had almost no climate impact and produced no local emissions.
 
“This in combination with the superior energy-efficiency of an electric motor compared with a combustion engine suggests that electric cars are all set to become increasingly common in the future,” said the rather prescient press release accompanying the car’s reveal.
 
The Volvo C30 Electric featured a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack, 400-volt system, and an 83kW/220Nm electric motor under the bonnet.
 
The electric motor's instant torque delivery gave the Volvo C30 Electric the ability to accelerate from 0 to 70km/h in just 6.0 seconds. There was a modest top speed of 130km/h.
 
The certified range according to the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) was 163km, though Volvo Cars specified up to 150km as the car's practical range – more than sufficient for daily commuting that averaged 45km a day.
 
The gear selector lever and the parking brake were electrically operated. In addition to Neutral (N), Park (P) and Reverse (R), there were two gear settings for driving forward.
 
 
Volvo C30 front view
Above: If recharged with renewable energy – such as wind power or hydropower – the C30 Electric had almost no climate impact and produced no local emissions.
 
In Drive (D) mode, the energy produced during engine braking was used to regenerate the battery, while the Highway (H) setting, designed for freeway driving, had a free-roll Coasting function that disabled energy recuperation when the driver lifted their foot off the accelerator.
 
The lithium-ion batteries could be recharged via a regular 230V power socket, with the cable plugged into the car's grille via a specially designed charge connector.
 
A full 10-Ampere charge took approximately 10 hours, or about six to eight hours with 16A. 
 
The batteries (2x140 kg) were fitted both where the fuel tank is normally located and centrally in the vehicle, ensuring luggage space remained intact.
 
The Volvo C30 Electric also has a DC/DC to support other systems, including the 12 Volt system that supplies various traditional components with power.
 
Inside, the C30 Electric’s instruments were specially designed for electric power.
 
Instead of the traditional rev counter, there was a gauge showing the battery pack's charge level as well as the car's current energy usage. At the top between the round gauges there was a display where the driver could scroll between average consumption in kWh/100 km, current consumption in kWh/100 km, remaining range at current driving style, and average speed.
 
The C30 Electric was also equipped with three climate systems.
Volvo C30 Driving
Above: C30 Electric offered a practical driving range of up to 150km and could accelerate from 0-70km/h in six seconds.
 
 
One supplied the passengers with heating or cooling, while the other cooled or warmed the battery pack as necessary. The electric motor and power electronics were water-cooled.
 
The C30 Electric had an innovative solution that made it possible to get comfortable heating in cold winter conditions without compromising the battery driving range.
 
Climate control in the passenger compartment came via a bio-ethanol-powered heater fitted in all cars. The car's ethanol tank could carry 14.5 litres of bioethanol, with the filler cap located where the fuel filler cap is located on a conventional Volvo C30.
 
For shorter trips when maximum range wasn’t crucial, it was also possible to run the climate unit on electricity from the batteries. In electric mode, an immersion heater warmed up the coolant in the climate unit.
 
The Volvo C30 Electric combined Cosmic White paint with an R-Design body kit in Orinoco Blue. The blue colour is repeated on the door mirrors, around the fog lamps and on the wheel rims.
 
For the cabin, the blue shade was echoed on the gear selector, on the centre stack, and in the stitching of the light-coloured, leather/textile seat upholstery.
 
The design also included the special C30 Electric striping pack, emblems on the charge connector cover and the car sides, as well as engraving on the tail panel.
 
Volvo’s first fully electric full production car, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, is now on sale in Australia. It will be joined by the C40 Recharge in 2022.
 
Volvo Cars plans to be a full electric car brand from 2030.