Just days ago the Volvo C30 EV was presented at the EnerDel facility in Indiana. Several reporters were on hand for the presentation as well as Volvo's director of special vehicles Lennart Stegland. Stegland described many of the attributes of this new electric offering from the company including a reference to an ethanol tank on-board the vehicle.
According to AutoBlogGreen, who was on hand at the event, the ethanol tank is utilized to store the fuel that heats the interior of the vehicle in cold temperatures. The tank is 14 liters in size and would hold enough fuel for two weeks of heat during the coldest days of winter. Its is filled through the traditional fuel filler door on the vehicle.
An AutoBlogGreen interviewee asked Stegland about the ethanol tanks and its usage and he replied, "At zero degrees Centidrade or slightly colder, you lose about 35-40 percent of the range if you use electricty [to heat the battery and or the cabin]. What we decided is we can have the opportunity to have this fuel-operated heater, which has a capacity of about six kilowatts, so that will reduce the temperature [where the range loss starts] by about 20 degrees Centigrade. Then we use the battery only for mobility. All the heat is taken from the ethanol."
The setup seems interesting as it could potentially eliminate the reduced range of EVs during cold stints. If you remember from a previous post, our own editor-in-chief Lyle Dennis has complained that the range of his Mini E has dropped off dramatically as the cold weather swept into New York City.
Here in the states, access to ethanol is limited. But the company could easily adapt the system to run on other fuels such as gasoline or diesel. Those that reside in colder regions are certainly more leery of EVs than those in warmer climates. Many believe that they will have to sacrifice heat in the winter to drive an EV. Though that's not the case, this setup could relieve any anxiety over range in cold conditions. Those in warmer climates would never need to utilize the system, but for those of us in the northern reaches of this country the system seems ideal.