Volvo 3CCC

The Volvo 3CC concept car, a rocket-shaped three-seater, can accommodate the full range of power systems, from traditional gasoline and bio-fuel, to hybrid and all electric. In essence, Volvo is hedging its bets on which system will be in use when the car hits the market. β€œIt might be in your garage in eight to ten years,” said Dan Werbin, director of Volvo Cars of North America.

Electric power is provided by three thousand lithium ion batteries, just like those used in laptop computers, giving the equivalent of 105 horsepower. Ichiro Sugioka, chief science officer on the project, told MSNBC.com that the lithium ion batteries could be the breakthrough needed to revive electric vehicles, which had hit a wall with lead acid and nickel metal hydride batteries. “The price is coming down so fast,” he said of lithium ion, noting that while one cell costs about $3.50 today, projections are just 30 cents by 2015.

With a very sleek 0.26 coefficient of drag and a lightweight 2,300-pound super-safe structure of steel and carbon fiber, the batteries allow the Volvo 3CC to race from a standing start to 60 mph in 10 seconds and can provide a driving range of as much as 180 miles. For enhanced safety, the seats feature four-point harnesses.

The car is only 153.5 inches long, nearly two feet shorter than Volvo’s smallest production car, the S40 sedan. Compared to the S40, the 3CC’s roofline is some four inches closer to the ground, and at less than 64 inches at its widest point, the car is nearly four inches narrower than the compact sedan.

“The 3CC has the aerodynamics of a two-seat sports car, but can carry more than two people,” said Ichiro Sugioka. The 3CC slips a third passenger, or perhaps two children, in a singe seat in the back. Werbin calls the Volvo 3CC “a safe, energy-efficient and cool concept for a young family.”