The aim is to have two prototype chassis based on the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.
“This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover before they need to be recharged. What is more, the project gives us increased knowledge about fuel cells and hydrogen gas,” stated Volvo Cars President and CEO Stefan Jacoby.
The first phase of the project consists of a reformer that has to break down a liquid fuel, in this case petrol, and create hydrogen gas. In the fuel cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car’s electric motor.
This technology is expected to increase the electric car’s operating range by up to 250 kilometers (155 miles) – in addition to the range provided by the car’s battery pack.
In the next phase, pending support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo Cars and Powercell will produce two test cars based on the current Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric. As said, testing of the cars will begin in 2012.
“We have just taken the first steps and it is naturally too early to talk about market introduction of electric cars with Range Extenders. The industrial decision will come after we have learned more about fuel cells and the opportunities they offer,” said Jacoby.