13th October 2004 Home: Automotive & Design News: Design: Volvo's New 3CC

Volvo's New 3CC

Volvo unveil their design for sustainable mobility

Volvo Car Corporation is rewriting the rulebook on how we will use our cars in the future with its 3CC prototype being unveiled to the public for the first time at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai, October 12-14.

Under the bonnet of the 3CC is an electric powertrain that quietly propels the car to a governed top speed of over 135 km/h (85 mph) and delivers 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration in approximately ten seconds with zero emissions. The Volvo 3CC has dimensions similar to a classic 2-seater sports car but incorporates a unique two-plus-one configuration, providing seating for two adults in the front and a unique rear seat solution for an additional adult or two children.

"With the Volvo 3CC, Volvo Cars is pioneering a new way of looking at mobility so future generations can enjoy the same freedoms the car has given my generation. We believe it is necessary to show new ways to reduce pollution and congestion," says Lars Erik Lundin, Vice President & General Manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC).

The Volvo 3CC is the brainchild of the designers, engineers and business people at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center think-tank in California. Their task was to create a `future-proof concept' that would enhance sustainable mobility. A car not only fuel-efficient, versatile, comfortable, and safe, but also exciting to drive and look at.

"We want to connect in a positive way with consumers so that they say 'I want to be seen in this car' ", Lars Erik Lundin explains. "We want to add emotional value to people's lives by offering an environmentally compatible car that appeals to all the senses, and which people want to drive."

Despite its small proportions, the Volvo 3CC has been designed to feel spacious through organic lines, and light colors. Inside, the fixed eye plane ergonomics and low profile A-pillar aim to create a sense of openness aided by three transparent panels in the roof. As the doors open by swinging upwards, a floating dash panel slides forward to ease ingress and egress. A sliding seat system also assists access to the rear seat. The pedals also adjust for individual requirements.

In the 3CC, Volvo aimed to attractively present a concept that was focused on efficient mobility. This was achieved through good aerodynamics on a compact footprint, lightweight body materials, and an electric powertrain. Volvo opted to give the 3CC a high strength steel space frame and composite sandwich floor panels for safety and reduced weight. The outer body is a bonded one piece carbon fibre shell.

"The double floor used to house the electric energy storage makes the concept future-proof in that the layout can be adapted for the most appropriate powertrain in the future, whether it be petrol, diesel, biogas, or hybrid electric," explains Ichiro Sugioka, Science Officer at VMCC in California.

"In Shanghai, we are demonstrating the electric powertrain, one of the most challenging to package into a vehicle, to highlight its potential where there is abundance of renewable energy that can be converted to electricity." Wind tunnel tests resulted in an enhanced aerodynamic efficiency that is 30% better than the new S40 sedan.

With a potential driving range of over 300 km (180 miles) under certain driving conditions, the torque-to-weight ratio is roughly comparable to the V70 T5 but available over 0 - 3500 rpm. In typical driving conditions, about 20 percent of the energy can be recovered by regenerative braking. This performance is achieved using a drivetrain specifically designed for the 3CC, although it too is a prototype. The electric power comes from lithium-ion cells identical to those used in modern laptop computers that are packaged in the thin sandwich floor.

Front wheel driven, the Volvo 3CC at Shanghai has double wishbone front and rear suspension. The front suspension includes horizontally mounted adjustable coil over shocks that give a low bonnet line. The rear suspension includes vertically mounted adjustable coil over shocks. Due to the vehicle's light weight and the power of the regenerative electric braking, unassisted brakes provide good stopping power.

The interior of the Volvo 3CC offers dynamic ergonomic positioning for both driver and front passenger. Unique solutions include replacing instrument panel toggles with proximity sensors that are activated by a finger as it gets to within 5 mm to adjust lights, climate, and audio system.

"Rather than refining existing cars and technologies for new markets, Volvo has listened, questioned and speculated about the future and developed this all new concept," says Lex Kerssemakers, Senior Vice President of Brand, Product & Business Strategy. "We think the Volvo 3CC opens a door into that future and we will develop the concept further."

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