Volvo Car Corporation has unveiled its XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept at the North American International Auto Show, which features a new benchmark in hybrid technology.

“No other manufacturer delivers fuel economy and electrical range on this level in a capable performance car with a total of 350 horsepower (257 kW),” said Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO, Volvo Car Corporation.

“The beauty with this plug-in hybrid technology is that you can keep all the power and capacity of your present car, combined with an even better range,” Stefan Jacoby said.

“The XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept gives you up to 35 miles all-electric range (56 km according to the U.S certification driving cycle). Or you can drive it as a super-efficient hybrid with a fuel economy of over 100 miles per gallon (2.3l/100 km) according to the European driving cycle.”

An electric motor producing 51 kW – combined with a 206 kW four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine – also gives the driver a muscular power plant packing a total of 257 kW.

“The XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept features an engine from our all-new, state of the art, four-cylinder engine family. Our new four-cylinder powertrains will get performance on today’s six-cylinder level. At the same time, they will also give consumers better fuel economy than present four-cylinder engines,” Stefan Jacoby said.

Pure Hybrid Power – three cars in one
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. The operational range is up to 45 km (European certification driving cycle NEDC) / 56 km (charge depleting range, U.S certification driving cycle) with zero tailpipe emissions in urban traffic.
  • Hybrid mode is the standard setting whenever the car is started. The petrol engine and electric motor cooperate to provide maximum driving pleasure with minimum environmental impact. According to the European certification driving cycle NEDC, the average fuel consumption rate is just 2.3 l/100 km with CO2 emissions just 53g/km. The car has a total operating range of up to 960 km.
  • In Power mode, the technology is optimised to create maximum possible power. The petrol engine with 206 kW and 380 Nm is combined with the electric motor with 51 kW and 200 Nm to deliver a total of 257 kW. The electric motor’s instant torque delivery contributes to the car’s acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

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Four cylinders with the same power as a six-cylinder unit
The front wheels of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept are powered by a four-cylinder   turbocharged petrol engine from the forthcoming Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA) engine family. This engine produces 206 kW 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 Car Corporation.

The concept car carries a “T8” badge in-line with Volvo’s new nomenclature, which emphasises the combined 257 kW of the high-performance four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. This moves the car into territory previously only occupied by eight-cylinder engines.

“It’s time to stop counting cylinders,” Peter Mertens says. “Four-cylinder engines are the most effective way to quickly reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption without compromising customer expectations when it comes to driving pleasure and performance.” 

Reduction of parts, weight and fuel consumption
VEA is a modular range of diesel and petrol engines. The petrol versions come with direct injection, minimised internal losses and balance shafts for maximised comfort.

 

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Several levels of turbocharging open up for flexibility that encompasses the whole range from high power and torque variants to extremely fuel-efficient derivatives. In order to cover all customer requirements, certain engines will gain added performance via hybrid drive or other spearhead technology.

The modular format is based on a standard of 500cc per cylinder for optimum thermodynamics. It could also be used to develop three-cylinder engines. VEA offers several advantages:

  • The number of unique parts is reduced. This promotes manufacturing efficiency, quality assurance and efficiency of new development projects.
  • The new powertrains are considerably lighter than present engines with similar performance.
  • Fuel economy 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.

Integrated Starter Generator
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 kW during acceleration. It also charges the battery during braking.

Charge the battery at home
The rear axle of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is driven by an electric motor producing 51 kW. 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. With 110V/12A a full charge takes 7.5 hours.

It is also possible while recharging the car to heat or cool the passenger compartment in order to make the start of the journey more comfortable. This also means that more battery power is available to propel the car.  

Constantly online
The Volvo Sensus infotainment system in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept keeps the driver constantly updated on everything that makes the journey easier, more efficient and more entertaining.

A few examples of available information:

  • Best route to the destination depending on whether the driver prioritises low energy consumption, the fastest route or the shortest distance.
  • Low Emission Zones where sufficient capacity is needed for running on pure electricity.
  • Charging stations with access to renewable electricity.
  • Locations along the route with access to quick-charging facilities.

Mobile application
The driver also can connect to the car via a mobile phone application. This offers convenient access to a wide range of data, such as the battery’s charge level, remaining range, and the location and capacity of the nearest recharging station. Via the app, it is possible to verify if the charger cable is hooked up and it is also possible to pre-program the car’s interior climate.

“Creating an intuitive driver’s environment that always gives you access to updated, useful information is an important part of our product development. This includes that you should be as updated when the car is parked as when you’re behind the wheel,” says Stefan Jacoby.

Muscular appearance
The Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is painted in a special white color and the 21-inch wheels enhance the muscular appearance. The interior features unique detailing and colors, such as dark-blue leather upholstery and inlays of blue-grey wood.

The instruments have been tailored to give the driver all the necessary information about petrol and electricity consumption, battery charge level, remaining range and so on.

Electric four-wheel drive 
The electric four-wheel drive in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is activated by pressing the All Wheel Drive (AWD) button. Instead of the mechanical power transfer of conventional four-wheel drive, the central control unit distributes power between the petrol-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, for instance in snow or mud.  

Saves battery power for later 
The driver can choose to save battery power for later in order to drive on pure electricity later in, 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. The aim is to ensure sufficient battery power for about 20 km of driving on electricity.

Uncompromising safety approach
Of course the cars with electrification technology inside come with Volvo Car Corporation’s uncompromising approach to safety.

“We use all our world-class knowledge to ensure that they are as safe as all other Volvos,” Stefan Jacoby said. “Our holistic approach includes every aspect of the day-to-day usage. And these cars go through our stringent test program, ensuring that the battery and high-voltage system are properly protected in collision scenarios that can happen in real-life traffic.”

Four major technology paths
“Electrification is one of our four major focus areas and our three cars in one plug-in hybrid takes hybrid technology into the next level,” Stefan Jacoby said. “This ingenious blend of state-of-the-art combustion technology and innovative electrification creates a bridge to a future where all-electric cars become more established on the roads.”

Volvo Car Corporation’s technological focus areas also include the upcoming Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA) four-cylinder engine family as well as a range of connectivity features, such as smart phone applications.

Fastest growing European brand in the U.S.
The United States is Volvo Car Corporation’s largest market. Volvo was the fastest growing European brand in 2011 with sales up nearly 25 percent compared to 2010. Globally, Volvo sales increased with 20 percent in 2011.

A diesel-electric V60 Plug-in Hybrid is Volvo Car Corporation’s first production model with this new technology.  The car will go on sale in Europe later this year.