Detroit ”“ The electric vehicles that seem to dominate this year’s Detroit auto show all look good, with one exception: the Volvo C30 Electric.
The Swedish carmaker, now owned by China’s Geely, decided to stay true to its safety image. It brought to the show a severely mangled C30 Electric that had been crash-tested to prove that an electric Volvo is just as safe as any other model.
The car was tested in a severe offset collision at 65km an hour in Volvo’s safety lab in Gothenburg. “The front deformed and distributed the crash energy as we expected,” said Jan Ivarsson, senior manager, safety strategy & requirements. “Both the batteries and the cables were completely intact after the collision.”
The test results are important because Volvo wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be any gas leakage or fire or short-circuiting in the car’s high-voltage system, Ivarsson said at a press conference.
The safety engineer explained that the combustion engine in the C30 Electric worked as a load distributor in a frontal collision. Because the electric engine is relatively small, there was space to add an additional front structure to deal with the higher crash energy generated by the heavy battery pack.
The C30 Electric’s battery pack, which is encapsulated in steel beams, is placed in the central part of the car, completely separate from the crumple zones and the occupants. In an accident, moreover, crash sensors trigger a power cut in 50 milliseconds.
Stefan Jacoby, Volvo CEO, said it was crucial that all 400 Volt electrical components in the car are protected in a collision. “The result of our research … is crystal clear,” he said, adding that “our core values, safety and environment, walk hand in hand towards a sustainable future.”
Jacoby said a C30 Electric test fleet will be brought to the US this year. In addition, Volvo will introduce a plug-in hybrid in Europe in 2012. This model will come to the US later.
The Volvo CEO expressed confidence about 2011. After an 11 percent increase in 2010 unit sales to 374,000, “we will do things faster, better and smarter” in 2011, he said. After a lackluster performance in the US, Jacoby said Volvo will start growing again. And in Europe and China, he predicted the automaker would raise its market share.
To see the crash test of the Volvo C30 Electric, please click here: Volvo C30 Electric crash testÂ .