Click the image of the Volve ReCharge chassis for a high-res gallery
After the news of the Volvo ReCharge plug-in series hybrid came out a couple of days ago we got in touch with Volvo for some more information. The ReCharge that's being displayed in Frankfurt is a mock-up. However, there is a running prototype being built and the mock-up was used to work out packaging of all the components.
The ultimate plan is to use the wheel motors for all the braking. The initial test units though have mounting provisions made for hydraulic brakes. These will be used during initial testing as a safety backup. One limiting factor of using only regenerative braking is the ability of the battery to absorb the kinetic energy fast enough. Most current lithium batteries (except the nano- material batteries like those from Altairnano and A123) can't take a charge that fast which limits the ability to use regen.
The lithium polymer battery in the ReCharge only has a 12kWh capacity but a claimed 62 mile range. Based on that it must be able to absorb energy pretty quickly and use a lot of regen to get that range. Volvo plans on field testing the ReCharge as soon as possible to gain experience with the system.