Bio-Heat? Volvo C30 EV Burns Ethanol For Cabin Heating

Want to keep warm in Volvo's new C30 EV? You're going to have to do something few other battery electric vehicles are capable of: burn fuel.

Warm weather may be ideal for operating electric vehicles at their optimum temperatures, but not every consumer interested in owning and driving an EV will reside at the Equator. Volvo's taken a number of steps to ensure the C30 EV's drivetrain -- to say nothing of its occupants -- remain comfortably warm, even in the harsh winter climates of the automaker's homeland.

"We must ensure that the C30 Electric performs as intended when driving, parking and charging in a variety of conditions, from normal to very cold or hot," Volvo Cars' Special Vehicles director Lennart Stegland said in a press release.  "Northern Sweden is the perfect place to do sub-zero temperature testing."

The C30 EV utilizes three independent climate control systems. One system cools the electric motor and power electronics with a liquid-based system, while another system maintains the battery pack's temperature. The climate control system for the cabin, however, heats the interior space by means of either a traditional electric heater or a gas-fired unit, which is designed to burn ethanol.

Why add the latter? In some instances, opting to burn the bio-fuel as a heat source may prove more efficient than attempting to use the electric heater, which is powered by the car's battery packs. Volvo is developing the C30 to run in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Will it impress EV purists seeking a vehicle that uses only electrons? Perhaps not, but it could appease customers who frequently encounter Yeti-friendly temperatures.

Volvo is presently in the final rounds of validation for the C30 EV, and anticipates commencing consumer leasing -- at least in Europe -- in the months to come.

Source: Volvo

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