SWEDEN: Volvo plug-in hybrid ready for sale

By Graeme Roberts | 13 December 2011

Volvo's V60 Plug-in Hybrid goes on sale early in 2012 at around EUR57,000.

After an initial batch of 1,000 cars for model year 2013, production will increase to between 4,000 and 6,000 cars for 2014. The car will come down the same line at Torslanda as the existing V60, Volvo UK told just-auto.

About 30% of total volume will go to Sweden and the other Nordic countries. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Britain will have a share of between 5 and 15% each.

Volvo expects 80% of total sales will be company cars.

The model is the result of close cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish electricity supplier Vattenfall. The two companies financed the development project jointly.

The car is only available in silver with black leather upholstery with contrasting stitching and inlays of blue-grey wood.

The front wheels are powered by the I5 2.4-litre turbodiesel with 215 hp and maximum torque of 440 Nm. The car has a six-speed automatic transmission.

The rear axle is powered by an electric motor producing 70 horsepower. The electric motor is supplied with power from a 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the load compartment floor.

The driver selects the required driving mode via three buttons: pure, hybrid or power.

In pure mode the car is powered solely by its electric motor with a range up to 50km (30 miles).

In hybrid the diesel engine and electric motor cooperate to keep CO2 emissions (NEDC, mixed driving cycle for certification) down to 49g/km (1.9l/100 km). The car has a total range of up to 1000km (600 miles).

In power mode the technology is optimised to give the car a diesel and electric power output of 215+70 horsepower. Maximum torque is 440+200 Nm. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 6.2 seconds.

The driver can also choose to save battery power in order to drive on pure electricity later on, for instance in an urban green zone or in the heart of a city.

When save is activated, the on-board system ensures that there is always sufficient charge for driving later in Pure mode. If necessary, the high-tension alternator will charge the battery pack so there is sufficient capacity for driving in pure mode.

The aim is that the save mode should ensure there is sufficient battery power for about 12.5 miles of driving on electricity alone.

The plug-in is recharged from a regular power outlet (230V). A full charge with 10A takes 4.5 hours. This is cut to 3.5 hours with 16A while a 6A charge takes 7.5 hours.

It is also possible while recharging the car to heat or cool the passenger compartment to provide a more comfortable start to a journey. This also means that more battery power is used for actually propelling the car.

The pre-conditioning function can also cool the batteries. The ideal operating temperature for the battery pack is 20-30°C. This means that cooling prior to driving is very important in order to maximise battery charge and thus also range.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has two heating systems. In electric mode the car uses a PTC (positive temperature coefficient) air heater. The car also has a diesel-powered heater.

Volvo's UK unit said the local price would be in the GBP45,000 to GBP50,000 range before any government subsidy for electric cars.

"We expect the order books to fill very quickly. The most discerning customers have many exclusive cars to choose between. But for anyone who truly wants to be in a league of their own behind the wheel of the most ingenious car in the world, there's only our V60 Plug-in Hybrid," said VCC president and CEO Stefan Jacoby.