(Video) Volvo C30 Electric: Winter Temperatures Halves Range

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Winter Testing Volvo C30

Winter Testing Volvo C30

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Can electric cars handle cold weather? It

s a question which we’ve seen answered time and time again by the auto industry and journalists in an attempt prove or disprove that electric cars can operate in extremes of cold weather.

We’ve seen Californian-designed Tesla sports cars enjoying the sub-zero temperatures of Narvik, a couple of hundred miles north of the arctic circle, but what about a family car from a country known for its cold weather?

A few months ago we had the opportunity to test-drive the Volvo C30 Electric hatchback at Volvo’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.  But although we thought the temperature there was a little nippy it was nothing compared to the cold weather Volvo was subjecting its cars to a little further north.

Just like every other car to enter the market, Volvo’s C30 was taken to the frozen north, where it was subjected to daily temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  

According to Volvo, the C30 suffered a drop in range per charge from 93 miles down to 50 miles, caused in part by the necessity for studded winter tires on frigid, snow covered roads.

While additional friction between tires and road was said to cause the most effect in range,  the energy needed to keep the car warm at -30 degrees was also blamed for reducing the range.

To minimize the drop in range, Volvo has designed the C30 to include a Bio-Ethanol heater to enable customers to have a non-electric way to heat the cabin and battery pack.

A drop in range of 50 percent is hardly ideal however, especially since Volvo advises its customers to charge as often as possible in colder climates.

What does this say about the Volvo C30?

Not much. Any car struggles to perform well in cold weather, and the C30 is obviously no exception.

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Comments (5)
  1. The title should be something like Winter Weather Halves Range, or Winter Temperatures and Snow Halves...
    I have often wondered if super-insulated [R-50/inch aerogel filled evacuated panels] battery boxes could solve the cold temperature range reduction in electric vehicles. Or do cold temperatures adversely affect the operating efficiencies of electric motors, too?

  2. it will be interesting to see if coda lives up to this time frame.
    thermal battery mgmt does seem to play an important part in some climates.

  3. Not a problem. Sell us the C30E down here in Australia. We never freeze and we need electric cars NOW, not in two or three years time.
    No need for studded tyres or cabin heaters. Give us solar panels on the upper body instead so we can recharge while parked all day at work.

  4. Hi everyone , I would like to say, In Artic cold Volvo C30 Electric provides you with warmth and sufficient range for those rare occasions you need it. Heating of the battery is done when charging and during driving no heating is needed to the battery.
    So the energy needs to go to you in the compartment so that you feel warm and unstressed to be able to be a good and safer driver. The Ethanol heater will provide you with range as the heating will not be taken out of the battery capacity. when set temperature is achieved the heating system requiring battery electricity is shut down and you run soley on Ethanol rest of the trip.
    Speed, road conditions, tyres, tyre pressure, load, driving behaivior, topography etc they all affect the driving range as in all other cars as well So instead of the heading Volvo C30 Electric: Winter Temperatures Halves Range I would like to say, In Artic cold Volvo C30 Electric provides you with warmth and sufficient range for those rare occasions you need it. kind regards Annelie Gustavsson, Product Mgr C30 Electric Volvo Cars Corporation

  5. Something just doesn't add up.. Rolling resistance of studded winter tires is actually lower than of summer tires. In -30 of course the air is more dense increasing the air resistance, and all the lubrication of rolling parts will be stiffer, but the effect is definitely not 50%, unless you're driving in knee high snow. My fuel consumption increase with ICE between +20C and -30C is about 15%, including the road conditions difference. Volvo's battery heating obviously just does not work.

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