You might think that having a twisted lump of metal on your auto show stand probably isn't the best way to promote your latest product. Most manufacturers would agree with you. The customers tend to prefer cars shinier and in one piece.
Volvo aren't "most manufacturers" though and they've never been a company to shy away from the safety aspect of their vehicles, so demonstrating a 2011 Volvo C30 electric car that's had an altercation with a deformable metal object at 40 miles per hour is the perfect way to demonstrate just how safe their car is.
Many people have concerns about what electric cars might be like during and after an accident, but Volvo are keen to reassure people that Volvos will always be safe, regardless of their powertrain. Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars, said "Volvo will never compromise on its stringent safety demands... We are the first car maker in the world to show what a truly safe electric car looks like after a crash".
Lennart Stegland, director of Volvo Cars' Special Vehicles division adds "The C30 Electric meets car buyers' increasing demands for minimised carbon dioxide emissions. However, this can under no circumstances come at the expense of other properties that customers expect of their Volvos". Stegland is confident that the car is as fun to drive, comfortable and safe as any C30 with a regular powertrain.
An electric drivetrain gives manufacturers some unique challenges compared to cars with internal combustion engines. Electric cars are laced with high-voltage cables running between the motor, battery packs and charging connection and ensuring that these are able to remain intact even in serious accidents and that no part of the powertrain causes a safety risk.
Volvo C30 Battery Electric Vehicle, shown at 2010 Detroit Auto Show
A reinforced frontal structure assists head-on impacts, taking the role usually occupied by a combustion engine, distributing the force of frontal impacts. Volvo has tested other cars in side and rear impacts to ensure occupant safety in different situations.
All of this adds up to an EV that remains as safe as you'd expect given Volvo's reputation, whilst still offering good performance and a range of 75-95 miles.
The first Volvo C30 electric cars will go on sale to customers in Sweden in early 2012, with a demonstration fleet due in the U.S. in late 2011.
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