At first glance, the phrase “Volvo racecar” seems like an oxymoron. Volvos have a reputation for safety and quality, not speed; they are stereotypically driven by college professors. It would seem surprising for Volvo to be involved in racing at all, let alone leading the field in developing eco-friendly racers. In addition to “Mean Green,” the land speed record-holding hybrid truck, this biodiesel-powered V40 will be carrying the Volvo flag into battle.
The car was actually built by German race shop Heico Sportiv. It is powered by a modified turbocharged inline-five, which makes 296 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, up from the stock V40’s 148 hp 258 lb-ft.
After converting the V40 to biodiesel, Heico made some more typical racecar modifications. The interior was stripped out to make way for a rollcage, bucket seats, and harnesses. The V40 racer also has a body kit that widens the wheel arches, allowing for bigger tires. Spoilers will help keep the car on the ground.
Heico’s body kit, and a full line of performance parts, will be available over the counter, so customers without a race license can soup up their street cars. That does not apply to Americans, since the V40 is not sold in the United States.
In Europe, the V40 complements Volvo’s three-door C30 hatchback. Both cars are pitched as stylish premium compacts, and rivals to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
Heico unveiled the V40 biodiesel racer at the Auto Mobil International show in Leipzig, Germany. Heico plans to enter it in the annual 24 hour endurance race at the Nurburgring.
Racing has always been the crucible for automotive technology; everything from aerodynamics to lightweight materials like carbon fiber has been the result of race teams looking for an edge. Why shouldn’t green technologies like biodiesel have their turn on the track? A little racing will also do wonders for this technology’s public image, not to mention Volvo’s.