• Mar 22, 2011
Volvo tests C30 Electric in the Arctic – Click above to watch video after the jump

Recently, Volvo wheeled out its C30 Electric for some cold-weather testing in the Arctic. In temperatures that hovered around -33 degrees Celsius (-27.4 degrees Fahrenheit), Volvo claims that the battery-powered C30 had "no problems coping with the climate." As Obi-wan would say, this is only true from a certain point of view.

While the C30 Electric started without problem, traversed the snowy terrain with relative ease and provided sufficient heat for its occupants (thanks, ethanol!), the vehicle's range dropped off significantly. The car's range is listed at 93 miles in ideal conditions, but the frozen C30 whizzed down snow-covered roads for only 50 miles before its battery was fully depleted. Volvo says that the drop in range was due, at least in part, to the added friction from the use of studded winter tires but, as most of us already know, cold temps alone can diminish range. Hop the jump to watch the C30 Electric tackle the Arctic.

[Source: All Cars Electric]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Reverse cycle AC with ducting into the seats is the solution for energy efficient cabin heating in EVs.
      • 3 Years Ago
      looks good mate ~ but cant afford one ~
      i just hope i can get an iron suit ~ LOL
      • 3 Years Ago
      They said it cuts the battery to 50 miles of range at -27F, That's a very cold day, even on the worst of Minnesota winters. Single digit temperatures of say 5F would feel warm by comparison. While it's nice to know how the battery is affected at such low temperatures. I doubt many people will be going out when it's -27 F, especially knowing that temperatures that cold usually come with a stiff wind, making it rather hard for humanoid life forms to function out of doors. This makes me doubtful that cold weather range at such severe temperatures would be much of an issue as people would not be travel for work or pleasure.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is this really news or just the media stating the obvious and throwing a hissy fit over it?

      Its probably not news to people who live in the cold that their battery doesn't perform as well when its cold, it might even be harder to start their engine. So why would a vehicle, that runs off electricity, stored in a battery, magically not be effected by this same situation?

      I'm waiting for the big news article that says your range increases when its warmer out, sunny, the roads are dry, you have a tail wind, driving down hill, with 0 traffic, drafting a semi-truck, at 55mph... But not holding my breath.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why can't they divert some of that ethanol heat to the battery and increase the range?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Summer heat extends Volvo c30 electric range to over 90 miles?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Considering that some are saying that electrics lose half their charge by 0 Celsius, I'd say that's quite remarkable. I'd also like to point out that the vast majority of the US *never* sees these sorts of temperatures, which coincidentally, when you say "hovering at" you may mean "high temperatures of". Being Canadian and formerly from a much colder environment (I live in Vancouver now), my experience is that cold snaps where morning temperatures get down to -35 will happen two or three times a winter in the area where they were doing their testing. "High" temperatures during those cold snaps would barely crack -30 or -25.

      As for when Canadians stop going out... that's what cars are for. But dress warm anyway, because your car is never going to get above 0 unless you're driving for more than half an hour or more. And that first half hour is not going to be pleasant. :) Either way, work needs doing, and bills need paying, so the country keeps running through sleet and snow and dark of arctic. :)
        • 3 Years Ago
        What you say about losing half capacity at 0C might have been true at one time.

        All Teslas and the Ford Focus EV have regulated battery packs - during use, and while plugged in, the battery pack temperature is regulated by a sealed liquid heating/cooling system.

        With this capability, Tesla guarantees their battery packs to operate within specifications while ambient temperatures may be as low as -20C. Reports from those who actually own Teslas and live in such climates report no negative effects even at around -30C.
      • 3 Years Ago
      50 miles is still 30 more than I drive in a day. I'd buy one now if they were available.

      As to the heater, I've never had any car that brought cabin temp up to 'acceptable' in 3 minutes when it was 0 outside. Usually the car was getting warm enough just as I was arriving.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The heater is ethanol fueled so sitting in traffic wont add any additional stress to maintain heat. Or maybe now you can add 'heat anxiety' to your FUD arsenal.

        I'd still but this 'shit' car if it were available.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's not a real 50 miles in winter, it's 50 hypermyling unrealistics miles. I live in the cold , montreal canada and it's winter 6 months a year in big city full of traffic. this car is dangeurous 6 month a year in the real canadian roads. Imagine a storm with snow on the road and mandatory heating and been cought in traffic , so after 15 miles, this shit car start to leave you and the battery is badly damaged with out of specs usage.
        • 3 Years Ago
        ok, i re-ajust:

        It's not a real 50 miles in winter, it's 50 hypermyling unrealistics miles. I live in the cold , montreal canada and it's winter 6 months a year in big city full of traffic. this car is dangeurous 6 month a year in the real canadian roads. Imagine a storm with snow on the road and mandatory heating and been cought in traffic , so after 15 miles, this SIMPLE car start to leave you and the battery is badly damaged with out of specs usage.
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's somewhat of a myth that cold weather alone hurts the range and probably hard to get rid of now. it'll be a kneejerk reaction for years to come but it's not quite true.

      it's true that at very low temperature the battery will have lower capacity but the battery doesn't have to be at that low temperature. using it will heat itself a bit and isolating it will quickly differentiate it from the outside temperature. that means that in -20C for instance the battery will quickly reach say -5 and have virtually full capacity.

      an electric car well built for cold weather could function in -40 or lower with full range. plowing through snow however will hurt the range. electric heater too. but not really the cold itself.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can the battery not keep itself warm when plugged in overnight so that it at least leaves the garage at a more amenable operating temperature?

      Haven't gas powered cars for cold climates had heaters in the block for years now? That would seem to set a precedent for using external power to keep the car ready for a drive in a winter wonderland.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seems like the ethanol heat isn't used to heat the batteries much, which will not solve any drop in capacity from the cold. Plus as mentioned, snow tires and colder air (higher resistance) will drop efficiency.

      So far only Tesla seems to have done it correctly: from the drives I have heard the range difference in the cold is close to negligible in the Roadster. A heavily insulated, liquid cooled battery should be required for cold climates (otherwise use a different chemistry that operates better in the cold), and at the very least the batteries should have its own heater (not just rely on cabin heating).
      bajohn3
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sorry Dan but a battery will not have full capacity at -5. Full capacity is usually rated around 70F, it will be less at 40F, let alone -5. The cold also lowers voltage, which means more amps are required for the same amount of power during discharge, which also decreases range. Colder air is also more dense, which increases aerodynamic forces.
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