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Volvo to start testing range-extender solutions

Engineers at Volvo Car Corporation have started producing test cars with range extenders powertrains.

The development project, which is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and the EU, will see tests of the various range extender concepts get under way in the first quarter of 2012.

"This is an exciting expansion of our increasing focus on electrification,” said Derek Crabb, VP of powertrain engineering at the Volvo. “Battery cost and size mean that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. With the range extender, the electric car has its effective range increased by a thousand kilometers - yet with carbon dioxide emissions below or way below 50 g/km."

Volvo’s technological developments in the range extender area encompass three different system combinations, with three-cylinder petrol engines being installed to complement electric drive to the front wheels. All the variants feature brake energy regeneration, and the engines can run on both petrol and ethanol (E85).

Two of the solutions are based on the Volvo C30 Electric. In both cases, the standard battery pack has been reduced in size to make room for the IC engine and its fuel tank.

Technical concept I is based on a C30 Electric with a three-cylinder IC engine producing 60bhp installed under the rear load compartment floor. The car also has a 40-liter fuel tank.

The IC engine is connected to a 40kW generator. The power it generates is used primarily to drive the car's 111bhp electric motor, but the driver can also choose to let the generator charge the battery, increasing the car's operating range on electricity.

The range extender increases the electric car's range by up to 1,000km - on top of the 110km range provided by the car's battery pack.

Technical concept II is a Volvo C30 with parallel-connected range extender powertrain. In this tech demonstrator, the car gets a more powerful three-cylinder IC engine at the rear and a 40-liter fuel tank. The difference between this and the first solution is the parallel connection, whereby the turbocharged 190bhp unit primarily drives the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. This gives a better fuel efficiency rating when driving with the IC engine on the highway. Via a 40kW generator, the battery can be charged to give the car an increased range on electricity alone. For this concept, the electric motor is an 111bhp unit. The two power sources give the car more than 300bhp in total, and acceleration from 0-100 km/h of less than six seconds.

The range extender increases the electric car's range by more than 1,000km - in addition to the range of up to 75km provided by the car's battery pack.

Technical concept III is a Volvo V60 with a parallel-connected range extender setup. In this solution, the entire drive package is installed under the bonnet at the front of the vehicle. The 111bhp electric motor is supplemented with a three-cylinder petrol turbo engine producing 190bhp, a two-stage automatic transmission and a 40kW generator. Power from the IC engine drives the front wheels via the gearbox and recharges the battery pack whenever needed.

The car is always powered solely by electricity during speeds of up to 50km/h. The IC engine is activated at higher speeds. What is more, it charges the battery pack when its charge drops below a predetermined level.

The battery pack is located under the rear load floor and it gives the driver a range of 50km on electricity alone. The car also has a 45-liter tank for petrol or E85. With this technology, the range extender increases the car's total range by more than 1,000 kilometers.

"These three projects allow us to evaluate the range extender's various possibilities,” added Crabb. “As with the C30 electric and V60 plug-in hybrid, the goal is to make the cars exceptionally CO2-lean without compromising on customer requirements such as comfort, driving pleasure and practicality."






 

21 July 2011


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