What is extended autonomy in a car?
The automotive world is reclaiming the concept of “extended autonomy”, a term popularized by General Motors in 2011, and which the Volvo
In 2011, the always troubled General Motors Co. launched an innovative model, the Chevrolet Volt, which combined an electric motor and a gasoline engine. He then spoke for the first time about the concept of extended self-driving to illustrate the car’s wide range of uses. Now, Volvo is coming back to that term to describe a car that, unlike that one, doesn’t have a combustion engine, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. In either case, the ultimate goal is to achieve greater autonomy. The question is how GM and Volvo see this being done because not everything is extended autonomy in the world of electric mobility.
Extended autonomy means anything from a car that combines an electric motor and a combustion engine, to a car in which all the power is derived from batteries.
The solution proposed by GM at the time was absolutely ingenious at the time. The Chevrolet Volt includes two engines: a four-cylinder gasoline engine with a power of 81 horsepower, and another electric motor with a power of 151 horsepower. The gasoline did not directly propel the car, but was connected to a 53-kilowatt generator that charged the battery when it began to run out. This configuration allowed the car to always move in electric mode.
The race for hybridization
In 2009, the first hybrid car in history, the Honda Insight, hit the market, followed by the Toyota Prius in 2010. The Chevrolet Volt followed in 2011. This car shared practically everything but name with the Opel Ampera, also from General Motors. After its launch, the concept of electric mobility began to spread throughout the world.
Now Volvo is bringing back the term “extended autonomy,” but it’s doing so in a 100% electric car. How then is this greater scope of use achieved? Simply by installing a larger battery. What the rear-wheel drive, 252 hp Volvo 82 kilowatts which theoretically allows you to travel a distance of 572 km. The reality then depends on how each owner drives, just as it does with combustion models. The official consumption in the case of the XC40 Recharge with rear-wheel drive and one engine is 16.7 kWh, but it is not unusual for it to exceed 20 kWh in normal use.
To prevent consumption from rising too high, count on some extra help. Among them is what other manufacturers call the break pedal. It is a solution that promotes the recovery of energy produced during traffic jams and slowdowns. The system even stops the car in a similar way to what adaptive cruise control systems do, which maintain a distance from the car in front and which stop the car if it touches the range. The downside is that there is no shortcut to activate or deactivate it, it is activated through the on-screen settings on the dashboard and then a few more steps.
However, this complexity belies the somewhat logical use of the infotainment system. Unlike other manufacturers, you don’t have to go crazy to access the various functions of the system. What’s more, it’s directly connected to Google so you can ask your questions using the voice-activated command on the steering wheel.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge, like the rest of the range, is spacious and livable inside and, above all, easy and comfortable to drive. It exists in this generation, but it has been there since it began to be marketed in 2017. It was not for nothing that the Women’s World Car of the Year named it the best car in the world in its 2018 edition.