Volvo's upcoming C30 Electric offers a driving range of 150km - about par for the electric-vehicle world, and plenty to get the average urbanite around town.
For those planning a trip from Melbourne to Sydney however, things get tricky. Volvo may soon have an answer however, as it kicks off testing for its EV range-assisting petrol engines.
The concept is a simple one, and it takes a page from the Chevrolet Volt's playbook. In the first of three new test cars, Volvo has fitted a 45kW three-cylinder petrol engine and a 40 litre petrol tank to its C30 Electric.
Ordinarily, the vehicle is powered by its existing 82kW electric motor and battery combination. With the petrol engine installed however, the electric motor can draw energy from a 40kW generator powered by the small engine - and the battery can be charged 'on the go' through the same system.
This arrangement boosts the C30 Electric's driving range by a further 1000km and, according to Volvo, keeps emissions well below 50g/km.
The second concept gets a more powerful turbocharged 140kW three-cylinder petrol engine, but unlike the first car, this arrangement allows the petrol engine to drive the rear wheels.
This is still considered a range-extender: apart from the option of gaining all-wheel-drive by powering both axles, the petrol engne can also direct power to the 40kW generator and boost the electric motor's range.
With a six-speed automatic transmission and 0-100km/h time under six seconds, this second system would also be the most appealing option for the new breed of economy-minded revheads.
The third concept is based on the V60 wagon and features the same electric motor and turbocharged petrol engine utilised in the second C30 concept.
In this case however, the petrol engine is mated to a two-stage automatic transmission and can power the front wheels while also recharging the electric motor when needed.
Up to 50km/h, the V60 is powered by electricity alone, with the petrol engine kicking in at higher speeds.
"These three projects allow us to evaluate the Range Extender's various possibilities," Volvo's Vice President of Powertrain Engineering, Derek Crabb said.
"As with the C30 Electric and V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the goal is to make the cars exceptionally CO2-lean without compromising on customer requirements such as comfort, driving pleasure and practicality."
A production schedule for the three new concepts has not been confirmed, although it is expected that the V60 diesel-electric Plug-in Hybrid shown at last week's Australian International Motor Show will debut in local showrooms sometime in the next two years.
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