The electric car market in the US is divided into two distinct categories. The first category is defined by a frumpy car with a look only a mother could love. It also handles like an economy car made in the 1980s. However, that isn’t the point. The reason for the entry level electric car is that there is a market of folks that will buy an electric car at any price, without regard for the sacrifices. They are true believers in moving away from petroleum powered vehicles. The problem that companies offering electric cars in the US face right now is this; The number of people who fall into this niche is very limited. Worse, many of them already own a Prius. Thus we see such results as the Chevy Volt plant being mothballed so inventory can drain from dealer’s back lots.
The second category of electric cars is ultra-exclusive, insanely expensive (think $100K) sport-luxury cars that Golden Globe winners will be photographed driving. Seeing one of these on the road is about as likely as seeing a bald eagle snatch a rabbit off your front lawn. It could happen, but it won’t.
What the US needs is a sporty, classy, sort of sassy, small wagon that would sell into a larger niche, and also drive well enough that the folks who will own one won’t feel punished. The Volvo C30 Electric is that car for three reasons.
First, the Volvo C30 is a Volvo and it is a small wagon. Small wagons, and Volvos are already very popular in the Northeast and in other parts of the US where cold, ice, and an upwardly mobile green demographic co☮xist. Volvo has gone to great lengths to make the C30 Electric an excellent winter car. It features battery warming and pre-conditioning of the passenger compartment during charging to make the car as comfortable as possible, and to increase range (over 90 miles by the way). Volvo also offers automatic windshield de-icing during preconditioning. The car can even come with an additional heater that is powered by Bio-ethanol. Is there a greener way to warm one’s buns on the way to the slopes?
Second, The Volvo C30 is a wonderful drive. It combines a solid body structure with good handling; one might even say sporty, and the ability to absorb pot holes with ease. Adding the weight of a battery pack in the rear of the car will only better balance it and give it even more of a solid feel.
Third, the C30 is already a car. The cost of the parts, many of which are shared with other Volvos, should be lower due to increased volume. It is already the correct size for an electric car as well, compact, 2+2 seating, and the hatchback design will help to increase luggage room for pets and snow gear.
If Volvo can bring the C30 Electric to the US, and market it in wintry climes, it just may open some new markets up and possibly start to expand sales beyond the true believers.