Volvo’s petrol plug-in hybrid

Volvo will unveil an innovative petrol plug-in hybrid XC60 at the Detroit Auto Show later this month. It is an electric car, a highly economical hybrid and a powerful high-performance car all rolled into one.

At the touch of a button, the driver decides how the available power from the combination of the high-performance petrol engine and the electric motor is to be utilized.

“The technology in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is as ingenious as it is unique,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo. “You can make really green progress on the road without compromising on any of the luxury car’s renowned properties. No other manufacturer has succeeded in delivering fuel economy and electrical range on this level in a capable, spacious performance car with 262 kWs on tap.”

The same concept in the Volvo V60 plug in diesel hybrid goes on sale in Europe later this year and subject to further evaluation could be seen in New Zealand some time in 2013.

Volvo expects to introduce the plug in petrol hybrid technology to North America, which prefers petrol to diesel, in 2014 although it may be in a different car to the XC60 Concept on show in Detroit this month.

The driver chooses the driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel. The buttons give the car three distinct temperaments: Pure, Hybrid or Power.

In Pure mode the car is powered solely by its electric motor as much as possible. The operational range is around 50 kms.

Hybrid mode is the standard setting whenever the car is started. The gasoline engine and electric motor cooperate to provide minimum environmental impact. According to the European certification driving cycle NEDC, CO2 emissions are 53 g/km with 2.3 litres/100 kms fuel economy. The car has a total operating range of up to 960 kms.

In Power mode, the technology is optimized to create maximum possible power and 580 Nm of torque. The electric motor’s instant torque delivery contributes to the car’s acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

The front wheels of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept are powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine from the forthcoming VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) engine family. This engine produces 210 kWs and maximum torque of 380 Nm. Power delivery to the wheels comes via a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission.

“In the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept we demonstrate that our forthcoming four-cylinder engines offer the same high performance as today’s sixes. At the same time, their fuel consumption will be lower than in current four-cylinder engines,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo.

The concept car carries a “T8″ badge, which emphasizes the combined 262 kWs of the high-performance four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. This moves the car into territory previously occupied solely by eight-cylinder engines or turbo sixes.

Fuel economy with the new VEA modular motor is improved by up to 35 percent compared to engines with similar performance. Modularity and compact transverse design are also ideal for future electrification developments.

The engine in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept has no conventional starter motor or alternator. Instead, there is an Integrated Starter motor and Generator (ISG) connected to the crankshaft, which is located between the engine and the transmission. The ISG is capable of delivering an extra 34 kWs during acceleration. It also charges the battery during braking.

The rear axle of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is driven by an electric motor producing 53 kWs. It is supplied with power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

The battery pack is recharged from a regular power outlet, at home or at a parking place. Recharging time varies with the current. If 220V is available a full charge with 12A takes just 3.5 hours.

The electric four-wheel drive in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is activated by pressing the AWD button. Instead of the mechanical power transfer of conventional four-wheel drive, the central control unit distributes power between the gasoline-driven front wheels and the electrically driven rear axle.

The electric four-wheel drive system has been designed to provide better traction when starting and when driving on slippery roads.

The driver can choose to save battery power for later in order to drive on pure electricity later on, for example, an urban green zone or in the heart of a city. When Save is activated, the generator charges and tops up the battery pack if necessary.

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