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Volvo's Game Changer, Or The First AWD Diesel Plug-In Hybrid

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On: Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 1:09PM | By: Chris Salamone

Volvo's Game Changer, Or The First AWD Diesel Plug-In Hybrid

Volvo is a company synonymous with safety, AWD, and perhaps the geometric square. In 2012, Volvo will also be known for an entirely new achievement: the first practical plug-in hybrid. Just as Chevy plans to release the Volt, which features both a short range electric motor and the long term benefits of an internal combustion engine, Volvo is looking toward the future to blend technologies from plug-in hybrids and diesels alike in their latest V60.

To date, all mass-produced hybrid vehicles are powered by unleaded fuel. This is primarily because of the differences associated with starting diesel engines versus starting an electric motor. Diesels require oil pressure and usually some warm-up time. This newest V60 manages to meet that challenge with some kind of mechanical voodoo—allowing oil-pressure to build while the driver releases the brake and presses the start button.

The video below features Robert Llewellyn, who lauds the V60’s electric engine while stammering: “That’s pure, because that’s got plenty of [power]. I’m being gentle on the throttle, but it’s pulling up a hill in pure electric!” Part of Llewellyn’s shock comes from the fact that this newest V60 actually distributes power to the rear wheels via the electric motor and power to the front wheels from the diesel. Drivers can choose to operate purely in electric mode (RWD) or diesel (FWD) or power mode which uses both (AWD).

Volvo anticipates that drivers will achieve well over 100 mpg in regular usage and can expect to get 25-30 driving miles out of the vehicle’s electric battery bank—a range similar to the Chevy Volt. The difference between the Volt and the V60 will be Volvo’s diesel engine. In general, diesels get significantly greater range and power than gasoline engines. So the diesel V60 will likely outdistance and outpace the Volt once their batteries run dry.

The sad news, however, is that the Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid will be available only to European markets in Fall 2012. American customers will have to wait until 2013 or 2014, and even then, for a mere gasoline engine. Boo-hoo.

Yet there is hope on the horizon. The extra time between European and US debuts means that US production V60 Hybrids will likely have worked out some of the kinks typically found in new cars. And more exciting, Volvo’s much-anticipated hydrogen fuel cell range extender for electric vehicles is planned for production after the V60 plug-in is already available. So, with fuel cell range boosting, the US market might see similar range numbers to a European diesel.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



dwalter | 1:58PM (Tue, Sep 6, 2011)

diesel / hybrid / ev - powered AWD wagon ... I like it!

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