While major U.S. automakers are focusing on hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, Volvo took a different route, unveiling a sports car powered entirely with lithium-ion batteries. Volvo's 3CC concept car, won "Best Design" and five Gold Standards at the recent Michelin Challenge Bibendum environmental competition in Shanghai, China.
"Not only does the 3CC combine classic Volvo styling cues with exotic gull-wing doors and a tapered, 2+1 seating configuration, but it does so with a highly advanced lithium-ion battery electric drive train. That's a step apart from the crowd, which these days is largely focused on hybrid and fuel cell concepts," says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal.
"Just as the earlier ECC forwarded new thought in hybrid propulsion with its high-speed turbine-generator design," adds Cogan, "today's lithium-ion 3CC innovates with its thousands of smallish laptop computer-style batteries, which power this zero emission vehicle to impressive levels of efficiency and performance."
Advanced research into sustainable mobility and Volvo engineers have placed particular focus on the conditions regulating safety in small cars and their ability to handle incoming forces in a frontal collision.
The unique aerodynamic styling of Volvo's 3CC concept car allows room for a third seat in back. The unique ducktail design creates room for a third seat in the back, while the batteries are sandwiched into the floor panels.
The 3CC concept car features an 80-kilowatt motor that delivers up to 107 horsepower, it has a potential driving range of 300 km (approx 180 miles) the 3CC has a top speed of over 135 km per hour.
The carbon-fiber body is mounted on a steel space frame and composite floor panels, giving the lightweight vehicle the ability to leap to 60 miles per hour in less than 10 seconds. Volvo says the 3CC can travel 180 miles on one charge under ideal driving conditions
The Volvo 3 CC's safety features include Volvo Safety Ride Down Concept, a unique solution with a seat system that moves forward, a bit like a sled, at the same time as the front is deformed. This movement is slowed with the help of adaptive shock absorbers that tailor the damping effect to suit the collision force and the occupants' number and weight. The interior can be moved between 0 and 200 mm forward, which has the same overall effect as extending the crumple zone by a corresponding length. It has seats that slide forward at the moment of deformation, the intention being to compensate for the small car's traditional lack of space in the crumple zone.
Virtual tests showed that the most important part of a ride-down system is the energy absorber and that it needs to be adaptive in order to be a viable concept, by responding to differences in occupant load and crash severity".
An environmentally efficient car that also has to be comfortable, enjoyable to drive, attractive to look at and safe to ride is an entirely new approach. The result is the Volvo 3CC, a sporty and appealing, extremely aerodynamic and compact car equipped with an energy-efficient electric motor.
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Jenny McLane is a 36 year old native of Iowa and has a knack for research on cars and anything and everything about it. She works full time as a Market Analyst for one of the leading car parts suppliers in the country today.