Automaker Volvo has announced its plans to develop electric vehicle range extenders, claiming the new technology can give cars an additional 620 miles of range. But, before wondering what sort of sorcery is afoot, we should note that Volvo is basically turning electric cars into plug-in hybrids. Still, the idea has its merits.
Supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and European Union with $1.7 million in funding, the manufacturer is testing electric vehicles by fitting three different types of three-cylinder combustion engines, which can be fueled by gasoline or ethanol, to its C30 and V60 models.
The first concept calls for a rear-mounted 60 horsepower engine and 10.5 gallon fuel tank to be fitted to a 40 kilowatt generator that will act as the main driver of the electric motor on a C30 model, but drivers will be able to choose to have the combustion engine charge the vehicle’s battery as well. The second concept, a rear-mounted turbocharged engine and a 10.5 gallon fuel tank is fitted to a six-speed transmission that drives the back wheels, and, like the first concept, also featured a 40 kW generator that can charge the electric vehicle’s battery.
The third concept, and perhaps the most promising, front-mounts a turbocharged engine to the 80 kW electric motor of a V60 model, along with a two-stage automatic transmission and 40 kW generator. Under 30 miles per hour, the car is powered only by the all-electric system, but when reaching higher speeds, or when the car’s battery charge is low, the combustion engine, fuel by a 12 gallon tank, supplements power. Volvo says real-world testing of the concept systems will start in early 2012.