Volvo’s Electric Car the C30 Hits the Road

Volvo’s all-electric vehicle, the C30, has been hitting the streets of California this week, under going test drives during the LA Auto Show, and being tested in fleets in California starting next week. Volvo’s CEO Stefan Jacoby said in a keynote on the first day of the show on Wednesday that the car, along with a future plug-in hybrid that Volvo plans to launch in 2012, are a sign of a “new chapter in Volvo’s history books.”

At the same time there’s also another, decidedly more dramatic, chapter unfolding in Volvo’s time line: in March Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, known for its low-cost compacts, announced it would buy the loss-making luxury brand for $1.8 billion from Ford Motor. During the Q&A portion of Jacoby’s talk at the LA Auto Show there were several questions about how Volvo would work to maintain its luxury brand after it was owned by a Chinese firm known for making low-cost cars.

But while Volvo works out its overall business strategy, it’s showing a budding interest in EVs, having shied away from the technology for years. The C30 is still in the prototype phase, and Volvo isn’t detailing much about the pricing or launch plans. At the end of the day, it could just end up as an interesting pilot program for the automaker.

However, the car is well designed, and is using batteries from EnerDel (subsidiary of Ener1, video with Ener1’s CEO here), which has a factory in Indiana. During a test drive with Volvo exec Lennart Stegland, the car handled well, was roomier feeling than the Nissan LEAF, and had nice stylistic perks in its interior like a toggle shifter and blue-themed lighting. We’ll bring you our video test drive of the car over the coming days via Green Overdrive.

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