All-electric C30 prototype

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All-electric C30 prototype

The battery-powered C30 prototype we drove has twice as much battery power as the plug-in diesel-electric model, and is a test bed for an all-electric car that Volvo says it will eventually launch.

The company is trialling the technology in the C30 since it's the lightest car in the Volvo range, and this is most likely to be the first type of all-electric vehicle to be launched. Volvo says it would like to offer a range of electric cars, but concedes that it's unlikely to achieve a complete family of battery-powered models because SUVs such as the XC90 are just too big.

The two battery packs add 300kg to the C30, but as other components are removed, including the conventional internal combustion engine, the car is just 100kg heavier than a standard car.

The 110bhp electric motor could accelerate the car from 0-60mph in around nine seconds, although Volvo has it tuned to deliver a time of 10.5 seconds to preserve battery life. Top speed is 80mph.

A potential range of between 75 and 93 miles would cope with 90% of journeys, says Volvo, while the batteries take eight hours to fully recharge from flat via a domestic socket.

As with other electric cars we've tried, the C30 pulls strongly from a standstill because electric motors deliver peak torque from zero revs. When we drove it, it was able to accelerate well with three of us onboard, too.

When will a production car be ready and how much will it cost? Volvo will say only 201X which means before 2020 in our book with an estimated cost of at least 25,000.

As with the plug-in diesel-electric car arriving in 2012, however, the cost of batteries should come down to soften the blow a little, while there are also those incentives from the UK Government that we're still waiting to hear more about