Volvo Cars President Stefan Jacoby has vowed to make the Swedish automaker more responsive to the interests of eco-conscious consumers. Mr. Jacoby noted in a press conference during the 2010 Paris Motor Show that Volvo’s fleet must go electric to keep up with the competition. The next step forward from Jacoby’s Paris statement is the V60 plug-in hybrid. This production vehicle will be part of the Volvo display at the upcoming 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid uses a similar frame as the traditional V60 sports wagon but looks vastly different under the hood. This model features a 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine capable of achieving 160kW of power. Engineers at Volvo tweaked the drive system to draw power from a 52kW electric motor on the rear axle as well as a 12kWh lithium-ion battery. The V60 plug-in hybrid includes a six-speed automatic transmission designed for precise gear shifts that reduce fuel consumption.
Volvo’s performance estimates for the V60 could draw some attention from onlookers in Geneva. The combination of an efficient diesel engine with an advanced motor and battery could yield a combined fuel economy of 124 miles per gallon. Drivers could travel up to 31 miles per charge on all-electric power and regenerative braking recharge the battery during long trips. This all-electric range is on par with competing hybrids but the estimated range of 746 miles blows competitors out of the water. The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid might be marketed solely at European consumers initially but the estimated range should create interest among American commuters and road trippers.
The rollout plan for the V60 plug-in hybrid starts with an initial round of production in early 2012. Volvo is working with Swedish utility Vattenfall to develop infrastructure and billing mechanisms for consumers in northern Europe. The 2012 rollout plan seems likely to succeed due to Volvo’s marriage of hybrid drive systems with existing models. Volvo engineers are certainly tinkering with prototype bodies and concepts that could be used within the next decade. In the short term, however, the automaker wants to get plug-in hybrids and electrics on the road quickly by using established designs. This plan expedites Volvo’s long view of an electric fleet while transitioning customers from the past to the future.