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.