Despite its compactness, the Volvo 3CC has been designed to feel spacious through organic lines, and light colours. Inside, the fixed eye plane ergonomics and low profile A-pillar 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 unique sliding seat system also assists access to the rear seat. The pedals also adjust for individual requirements.
But Volvo Car Corporation's aim was not just to make the 3CC look good - they also wanted to deliver on overall sustainable mobility goals by providing excellent efficiency. Volvo has achieved this objective through good aerodynamics on a compact footprint, lightweight body materials, and an electric powertrain.
Volvo opted to give the Volvo 3CC a high strength steel space frame, composite sandwich floor panels for safety and light weight and an outer body which is a bonded one piece carbon fibre shell. The resulting chassis rigidity together with its innovative suspension give the car great handling characteristics.
"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."
Meticulous 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 powerful T5 model, but available over 0-3500 rpm. In typical driving conditions, about 20 per cent of the energy can be recovered by regenerative braking.
This performance is achieved using a drivetrain specifically designed for the Volvo 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, whilst 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 3CC uses Michelin Pilot Sport 215/45 ZR18 tyres, which are normally found on supercars, to maximise performance.
The interior of the Volvo 3CC offers 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."Published 12 October 2004