Volvo Car Corporation has recently announced an improvement in the automaker’s electric car line by including in its program test cars with Range Extenders. These devices are combustion engines that increase the range of Volvo’s electric vehicle fleet.
The project is supported by the European Union and the Swedish Energy Agency and would be in production by the first quarter of 2012. According to Derek Crabb, Volvo’s VP for Powertrain Engineering, the expansion is an increased focus on the limitations of the battery life in an all-electric vehicle. Despite the inclusion of the engine, the CO2 emissions are still below the ceiling of 50g/km set by existing EU laws.
The company is already into three different programs using different technology combinations. In one program, there is a three-cylinder gasoline or ethanol engine to complement the electric drive to the front wheels. All the vehicles have brake energy regeneration and the battery pack is smaller to allow for the combustion engine and the fuel tank.
The first program is the all electric Volvo C30 with a series connected Range Extender. The result is the car can produce 60 hp or 45 kW located under the rear load compartment floor with a 40-liter tank. In this configuration, the combustion engine is connected to a 40 kW generator that drives the electric motor or can recharge the battery instead.
The second program is the electric Volvo C30 with a parallel-connected Range Extender. Here the combustion engine is parallel connected to the turbocharged 190 horsepower engine to drive rear wheels on its six speed automatic transmission. The battery can also be recharged to be used by the 111 hp electric motor.
The third program is installed in a Volvo V60 and is parallel-connected Range Extender. This configuration has all the drive system up front where the 111 hp electric motor is supplemented by the three-cylinder engine to produce 190 hp. It also has a two stage automatic transmission on a 40 kW generator. The combustion engine drives the front wheels and recharges the batteries at the same time.
The three car projects would provide the car company the possibilities in the utilization of the Range Extender in future vehicles. The goal, according to Crabb, is to “make the cars exceptionally CO2 lean without compromising on customer requirements such as comfort, driving pleasure and practicality.”