Volvo to launch world's first diesel Plug-in Hybrid

22 Feb 2011

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid(1)

Volvo will unveil the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid at the Geneva Motor Show but this is no concept. It's virtually a production-ready Volvo V60 with CO2 emissions below 50g/km and will be launched as soon as 2012.

It is designed to give the driver the best of what an electric and diesel car can offer - so very low fuel consumption and CO2 levels, combined with long range and high performance. By simply pressing a button, the driver has the option of how they want to drive:

  • An electric car with a range of up to 32 miles.
  • A high-efficiency hybrid with CO2 emissions averaging just 49g/km.
  • A dynamic and engaging car with a combined output of 215 + 70bhp, 440 + 200 Nm of torque and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph of just 6.9 seconds.

The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 diesel, which produces 215bhp and maximum torque of 440Nm. The rear axle features ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70bhp, which gets its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car features a six-speed automatic transmission.

The driver chooses the preferred driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel: Pure, Hybrid and Power. The interaction between diesel and electric power is handled via a control system.

In Pure the car runs only on its electric motor as much as possible. If the battery has been recharged using electricity from a renewable source, the driving range is up to 32 miles with zero CO2 emissions. Battery range varies with terrain, climate and driving style.

Hybrid is the default mode whenever the car is started. The diesel engine and electric motor interact to provide the optimal balance between driving pleasure and low environmental impact. CO2 is 49g/km on the combined cycle, corresponding to amazing fuel consumption of 150mpg. The car's total range is up to 746 miles.

In Power mode the technology is optimised to give the car the best possible performance. The diesel engine and electric motor have a combined power output of 285bhp and maximum torque of 640Nm. The electric motor's lightning-quick torque delivery contributes to the car's 0 to 62 mph acceleration time of 6.9 seconds.

The majority of all European car drivers cover less than 32 miles a day, for instance to and from work. On longer trips, the diesel engine is activated automatically, giving the car the same properties and range as a conventional hybrid.

The cost of the battery pack means the plug-in hybrid will be more expensive to buy than a Volvo V60 with a conventional combustion engine. Pricing will be announced nearer the 2012 launch date. On the other hand, fuel costs are expected to be one-third of a conventional combustion engined V60. The plug-in hybrid can be charged via a regular household electricity socket at home or elsewhere. Charging time is about five hours if the car is recharged at home.

In addition to its three driving modes, the driver can choose to save battery capacity in order to be sure of driving on clean electricity later, for instance after entering the city. In order to maintain a sufficient battery charge level, the car is powered by its diesel engine.

Pushing the AWD button in the centre stack activates electric four-wheel drive. Instead of the mechanical power transmission of the conventional AWD system, the central control unit manages torque distribution to the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically powered rear axle.

Using the car setup menu, the driver can key in the planned route's distance (short, medium or long). The control system calculates the balance between diesel and electric power to obtain the lowest possible CO2 emissions for the given distance.

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is recharged via a regular power socket. The charging time depends on the level of the current but a full 10A charge takes 4.5 hours. The time is shortened to 3 hours with 16A, while a charge in a 6A socket takes 7.5 hours.

The instrument panel in the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid has been modified to give the driver a full range of important information about diesel and electricity consumption, battery charge level and remaining range. On the outside the car has several additional features that emphasise its CO2-lean profile, such as lightweight wheels with exceptionally low air drag and Pirelli tyres designed for low rolling resistance.

Full coverage of the Geneva Motor Show 2011  


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