First drive: Volvo Electric C30

  • Zero tailpipe emissions
  • Safest electric car ever
  • Takes 10.5s to hit 62mph

Volvo, like many other major car makers, is well on its way to preparing for an electrified future. If you want proof look no further than the new Electric C30. 

Based on the existing small Volvo hatch, the new electric C30 ditches its conventional internal combustion powerplant for an electric motor plus 280kgs-worth of state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries.

Against the clock this helps the little 111bhp cover the 0-62mph dash in just 10.5 seconds, topping out at 81mph. The range, meanwhile, is around 100 miles with the charging time taking between 6-8 hours from a normal plug socket.

Despite looking like a regular C30, the Volvo capitalises on the Swedish firm's safety heritage and hides pioneering battery cell packaging that sandwiches the batteries through the spine of the car, keeping the potentially explosive battery cells as far away as possible from an impact. This helps engineers claim the electric C30 is the safest electric car ever made. It also has several benefits in terms of packaging and enables the C30 to remain a proper four-seater (the Mini E poor packaging sacrifices rear seats for its batteries.) 

Behind the wheel the electric Volvo looks and feels like a regular C30 with two subtle differences. First, instead of the usual rev counter there is a dial that indicates whether or not you are drawing power or generating it. Next, there is a futuristic gear selector. 

Depress the brake and select drive and there's little warning anything is engaged. Release the throttle though and there's immediate creep. Floor the accelerator and the little C30 initially feels faster than its claimed 0-62mph time. This is because, unlike a petrol or diesel, all of its pulling power is delivered instantly. Once off the line the feeling of acceleration does subside, but the impression is that this car is easily quick enough to keep up with the traffic.  

We took the electric C30 on a tight twisty circuit with lots of tight turns and slow corners. It's here the Volvo begins to feel the weight of those heavy battery cells that weigh a hefty 280kg, but with some fine tuning the Volvo comes close to matching the agile fossil fuel-burning hatch. 

So the firm is keeping tight-lipped on when the firm's first electric offering will go on sale, saying that they are at least four years away. If sold, the C30 is expected to cost around £24,000, although this price is heavily dependent on the price of the batteries. Five years ago the cost per kilowatt was £10,000, today it is £1,000. 

Fifty cars will roll off the production line for trials throughout Scandinavia. To help it cope with the Swedish winter all models are fitted with an ethanol stove to help keep the Volvo warm in the sub-zero temperatures.

To find out why the regular Volvo C30 makes perfect economical sense click here