• Jun 1, 2009
Volvo plug-in hybrid - click above for a hi-res gallery

Volvo and Vattenfall have just made an announcement that should hurry the Swedish car maker along the hybrid highway. The two companies have partnered to develop a plug-in diesel hybrid that is expected to begin series production in 2012 with the first three demonstration vehicles to be completed this summer. Volvo, of course, will supply the cars, while the energy giant will bring charging units and the actual carbon-free electricity to the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) equation. Other hybrids being baked by the Ford-owned brand include a "micro-hybrid" for 2011 as well as the ReCharge concept.

Technologically, this PHEV is quite interesting. It will use 71% of its 11.3 kWh pack of lithium ion batteries to power the back wheels for about 30 miles (50 km). After that, the diesel engine takes over and will then drive the front wheels. The charging time for the battery is about five hours through a household type outlet and the car, which will use the body of the Volvo V70, will feature regenerative braking. Hit the jump for the official press release as well as a video outlining the program.




PRESS RELEASE:

Unique co-operation on environmental cars

Volvo Cars and Vattenfall to develop new plug-in hybrid

A Volvo that can be fuelled with electricity from a standard wall socket will be a reality in 2012. Swedish energy company Vattenfall and the Volvo Car Corporation are launching an industrial joint venture partnership to introduce plug-in hybrids on the market. The ground-breaking technology will considerably lower the environmental impact from traffic. In addition, owning a plug-in hybrid vehicle will be convenient since you can fuel up at home and fuel costs are significantly lower.

In January 2007, the Volvo Car Corporation and Vattenfall launched a joint project with the aim of testing and developing plug-in technology. Now their cooperation is being taken to the next level.

"We are investing in an industrial joint venture to series-produce plug-in hybrid cars in Sweden in 2012, cars that can be powered by both electricity and diesel. This is an important business development for us and our partnership with Vattenfall allows us to take a giant step toward offering our customers cars with an even smaller environmental footprint," says Stephen Odell, President and CEO of the Volvo Car Corporation.

Vattenfall and the Volvo Car Corporation believe that series production of plug-in hybrid cars and the development of infrastructure can generate new jobs and help Sweden maintain its position at the cutting edge of advanced pro-environmental technology.

The car can be charged at home
One of the major benefits of plug-in hybrids is that they can be charged from a regular household wall socket.
"We want to reinforce electricity's importance in society and its key role in solving climate issues. Through this cooperation we hope to be able to speed up the introduction of electric cars. Together we are developing the next-generation technology based on plug-in cars and various charging alternatives," says Lars G Josefsson, President and CEO of Vattenfall.

The development of the cars is being carried out and financed jointly by the two companies. The Volvo Car Corporation will manufacture the cars and Vattenfall will develop charging systems and supply the cars with electricity.

Innovative environmental technology
Electricity is very well-suited as a power source for cars. An electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes roughly one-fifth the energy needed to power an engine that runs on fossil fuels. The purchase price of the plug-in hybrids will be higher than that of cars with conventional technology. Batteries are still expensive but with the car running on electricity, its fuel costs will be cut to roughly one-third compared with diesel power.

Vattenfall will offer customers the opportunity to sign an agreement for renewable electricity sourced specifically from windpower or hydropower, as an alternative to the regular mix of electricity sources. Lars G Josefsson sees many benefits from chargeable plug-in hybrids, even in cases where the electricity does not come from renewable energy sources.

"Through electric power, we avoid the emissions from each individual car. Instead of petrol or diesel, the energy is derived from a few large power sources and Vattenfall is working hard to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from all electricity production. In Sweden, virtually all Vattenfall's electricity production is emission-free," explains Lars G Josefsson.

The plug-in hybrid cars will be driven by a powerful electric motor fuelled by a lithium-ion battery. The battery takes about five hours to charge from a standard wall socket, and the battery is also charged every time the car's brakes are applied.

"Most car journeys are short trips, for instance to and from work. We will be able to offer a product that fulfils this transportation need. In order to cover longer distances as well, the car will also be equipped with one of Volvo's fuel-efficient diesel engines," says Stephen Odell.

Demonstration cars on show this summer
In the summer of 2009, three Volvo V70 demonstration cars will be presented. The demonstration cars will be used to gather information about the wishes and demands that drivers may have on the new technology, to determine their driving habits and to establish how they want to charge their cars. Vattenfall will, among other things, test various concepts for high-speed home charging and also for charging stations in public places, where owners pay to fuel with electricity instead of petrol or diesel. The cars that are planned to go into series production in 2012 will feature somewhat different technology, but the launch of the demonstration vehicles is a step towards series-producing plug-in hybrid cars specifically tailored to market needs.

Descriptions and facts in this press material relate to Volvo Cars' international car range. Described features might be optional. Vehicle specifications may vary from one country to another and may be altered without prior notification.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is great news....for europe. What about the states? Would Volvo need to partner with a US energy company(s) here, or is this another US pipe dream?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am a little confused here.
      So, this car will drive as a RWD car for the first 30mi and then become a FWD? Don't want to be a snob but wouldn't a vehicle with radically changing driving characteristics like this be essentially a .... time bomb? What I mean is this: how can one expect an *average* driver to adjust on the fly in snowbelt states? These are the same people who generally don't purchase dedicated winter tires and don't purchase RWD cars due to lack of skill to drive one in the snow ... you get the idea.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Europeans may be better at driving in the snow due to their higher standards of seasonal driver instruction and testing including snow conditions.

        They also may be more apt to use snow tires.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Using the diesel engine to propel the front wheels is just stupid when having an electric motor in the back. Getting rid of driveshafts, diff, gearbox, clutch would probably save around 100kg, not to mention reduced manufacturing costs as well as reduced service costs for the customer in the long run.

      A diesel engine is also a much better fit for generating electricity than a gasoline engine since the maximum power is found around 4000 rpm, resulting in less noise when giving full "throttle" to the electric motor (with no battery power left).
        • 5 Years Ago
        When the internal combustion engine no longer drives the wheels directly, you have a series hybrid, such as the C30 ReCharge Concept. That's the next step, which requires larger electric motors and higher capacity (more expensive) batteries.

        In the parallel hybrid configuration descibed in this article , the diesel engine can assist the electric motor in driving the wheels in high demand situations, such as passing, high speeds and climbing hills. The vehicle is also inherently AWD. To get AWD with a series hybrid requires additional drive shafts, or the use of four wheel motors like on the ReCharge Concept.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm glad they say 2012, because I'm sure it costs an arm and a leg right now.
      Volvo$ Diesel$ (face it) Hybrid$
      • 5 Years Ago
      nice, i'd rather have something like this than the volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Absolutely, give me this technology in an AWD V50... and please let it come to the US!
        • 5 Years Ago
        exactly! a diesel-electric hybrid would be even better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...the car, which will use the body of the Volvo V70"

      The demonstation cars that will be on the road later this year will be V70s. However, Steve Odell, Volvo's CEO, declined to identify the model of the cars that will go into production in 2012, although it has already been decided internally.

      The production cars will also "feature somewhat different technology" from the demostration cars. CO2 emissions will be under 50 g/km, 50% less than the 2009 Prius.
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