When it comes to electric vehicles, the conversation invariably diverts to concerns about vehicle range, infrastructure, and recharge times. To address the last of those issues, Volvo and Siemens have developed a new fast-charging system that cuts recharge times down to 90 minutes.
The new 22-kW fast-charger system, fitted to a Volvo C30 Electric, is reported to be the world's first on-board charger that operates on a three-phase supply. The system, small enough to fit innocuously inside the vehicle, uses a three-phase outlet to provide enough charge for a range of 164 km (102 mi) in 90 minutes (based on a NEDC certification driving cycle). This compared to a 230-V single-phase household outlet that takes 8 to 10 hours to charge, depending on available current.
A new Siemens electric motor develops peak power output of 89 kW (120 hp) and 250 Nm (184 lb.ft) of torque to the Volvo’s wheels. These figures give the EV a top speed of 125 km/h (78 mph) and a 0 to 70 km/h (42 mph) time of 5.9 seconds. Range is reported at 163 km (101 mi) on a full charge.
Charging using a 400-V, 10A–32A outlet is where the quick turnaround comes from, but if only a standard socket is available then you’re looking at a 10-hour charge. Essentially, high output is a primary requirement to achieve such short turnaround times. So again, infrastructure issues play a part in the vehicle’s real-world ability to throw down these recharge figures.
A charge port on the C30's front grille is where the juice is fed to the fast-charger, located under hood. It then triple feeds the 24-kWh lithium-ion batteries laid out mid-frame in the car. Energy consumption for the C30 is rated at 17.5 kWh/100 km. Inside the 5-door hatchback, the only telling EV feature is a shortish, aluminum-brushed shifter in the shape of a figure 7. Reverse, neutral and drive keep the options simple. C30 weighs out at 1,725 kg (3,803 lbs) with the battery pack making up 330 kg (727 lbs) of the total package.
Formed in August 2011, the mandate of Siemens' and Volvo's partnership has been to further develop electric vehicles and systems. "Adding the fast charging solution will radically improve the time and mileage for the daily usage of the car,” claims Lennart Stegland, Vice President of Electric Propulsion Systems for the Volvo Car Group. "This will drastically improve the cost of ownership since the customer will now be able to drive many low cost kilometers per day. Even a quick 10-minute plug-in adds power for another 20 kilometers of driving."
Leasing customers in Continental Europe will have the opportunity to drive and evaluate a demo fleet of 100 Volvo C30 fully electric cars in the coming months. Volvo claims the technology will be applied across its EV range in the future.
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