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Volvo to Show Diesel Version of ReCharge Plug-in Hybrid Concept; 60-Mile Battery Range

The layout of the ReCharge. Click to enlarge.

Volvo will show a diesel-engined version of its ReCharge Concept plug-in series hybrid at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Volvo introduced a flex-fuel version of the ReCharge at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The diesel ReCharge uses a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine (81 kW/109 hp) to drive a generator to power the four in-wheel motors when the 12 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack is depleted. The car has a battery-powered range of about 60 miles.

A full battery recharge takes 3 hours. A one-hour quick charge should provide enough charge to drive about 30 miles, according to Volvo.

The combustion engine starts up automatically when 70% of the battery power has been depleted. However, the driver also has the option of controlling the diesel engine manually via a button in the instrument panel. This allows the driver to start the engine earlier in order to maximize battery charge, for instance when out on the highway in order to save battery capacity for driving through the next town.

Volvo says that the ReCharge Concept is best suited to car drivers who cover moderate distances every day. A commuter who has less than 60 miles to drive between home and workplace can cover the entire round trip on electric power alone, making the car a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) for most everyday driving.

For a 100 mile drive with full batteries, the first 60 miles will be with no fuel consumption and the remaining 40 miles will be at about 60 mpg. No more than 0.67 gallons of fuel is needed to go 100 miles—equivalent to 150 mpg.

A certain proportion of electrical vehicles will be necessary to meet the CO2 emission demands of the future. Since the Volvo ReCharge Concept combines an excellent battery range with a backup combustion engine, it is a very interesting concept.

The ReCharge Concept that we presented in Frankfurt a few months ago had a Bioethanol engine. The concept offers unprecedented flexibility to meet future challenges. By showing the car with a diesel engine, we demonstrate that the combustion engine for the generator can be matched to the preferences of each market. The diesel engine is one of the most energy efficient alternative available today.

This plug-in hybrid car, when used as intended, should have about 66 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with the best hybrid cars available on the market today. Emissions may be even lower if most of the electricity in intended markets comes from CO2-friendly sources such as biogas, hydropower and nuclear power.

—Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Cars

The ReCharge Concept, based on the Volvo C30, has been developed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC), the Volvo Car Corporation’s think-tank in Camarillo, California. The central electrical components in the Volvo ReCharge Concept demonstrator—the engine-powered generator and the wheel motors—were developed together with British electromagnetic specialists PML Flightlink.



Spectacular concept, can't find any info on when, or if, it will be produced, tho. Apparently they discharge a full 70% of the battery capacity, which accounts for some of the range advantage over the concept Volt, which is supposed to be ready by the end of 2010, but 60 miles range with of 0-100kph of around 9 seconds is not bad. Competition is a very good thing...


Despite being a lifelong fan of Volvos, I think GM is ahead as of the moment in terms of production intent and realistic technology predictions (especially battery pack development), although maybe Volvo could get a hold of the Saft battery pack used in the Escape Hybrid.

In-wheel motors- that's a can of worms I won't touch for now.

Benny P

This may sound airheaded, but if these serial electric hybrids can earn 50 (Volt) or 60 (Volvo) mpg in charge-sustaining mode, isn't that pretty sweet? Forget the large batter nonsense. What is keeping companies from cutting costs and developing a small-battery format vehicle like that with very low electric range that will compete with the Prius? Bonus would be the flexibility to add more capacity later as the technology matures. Is a major impediment that the serial format really isn't as simple and effective as they have been pushing? ... Just a thought.


@ AES, good call keeping hands off the in-wheel motors. I think it will be a long time, if ever, before they make sense. The saving grace may be that this is just a concept vehicle.

Bob Bastard

A 1.6L turbo diesel seems a little overkill for a genset application. Maybe they chose this engine because it was already a production engine, and they didn't want to invest in the development a dedicated powerplant for this concept? I would think that for a production model, a more practical ICE would be something quite small and simple which was designed to simply output the average power consumption in order to sustain the battery charge.


BennyP: I'm pretty sure that pretty soon you'll see offerings of all types and sizes. The all electric range chosen for the Volt was one that would cover at least 80% of all peoples' commutes. The idea is that those people will rarely require any gas at all, but can still take a long trip when desired. If you are going to charge sustaining mode then you're talking about regular HEVs (of which you will see more options very soon) If you're not going bother with a mid-sized range you might as well go parallel instead of serial.

s dogood

Couldn't they get by on a 1 liter engine. I'd love to see a cyclone engine series hybrid


This car, and the SubaruG4E for that matter, are all well and good, but for one thing: there is no apparent intent to bring either into production on any defined timetable. Call me when they commit to making the dang things and have both an estimated price point and a target release date. Until then it's just greenwash and I'm stuck following the progress of the Volt.


Why are in-wheel motors the kiss of death? I thought they're making the motors lighter all the time, reducing the unsprung weight issue. Maybe I need to test drive one to evaluate the handling issue, or is there another problem with in-wheel motors?


I am sick of waiting for these cars. It's like we are reading sci-fi articles.
I would think the technology is there for plug in Hybrid diesel.


If we've learned anything from watching the auto industry, it that they will sell the current models until they are no longer profitable. Then they introduce new models with new features. So what would happen if we quit buying low mileage cars? I think that would motivate the car manufacturers to bring out the new stuff and perhaps new technology. Pass it along..."Don't buy now, wait for the electric drive models."




Bob, I certainly agree.

This is getting close to what I have been trying to get car manufacturers to make for several years.

Sooner or later we will get a chance to buy one and it will be the Prius all over again.

Harvey D



Our Ford Elite dealer's yard is full with oversized pick-ups, 4 x 4 Vans, SUVs, etc.

The $10K rebates did not sell very well.

They will have to be shipped to Alberta soon where those monsters are still popular. Gas is much cheaper there.


Great concept. Now gents and ladies, stop by your nearest Volvo showroom and just ask if they know when you can see a ReCharge. They'll stare and say, 'what's that?' Explain its the Volvo you want to BUY. They pass it on to the front office and... well, you know.

Rafael Seidl

@Bob Bastard -

it's a basic engineering concept that you need to walk before you can run. Getting the new batteries and electric drive control working is the first step.

Optimizing the genset will come later. Without any mechanical connection to the wheels, you could eliminate the crankshaft altogether if you wanted to. You could go with a fuel cell, as GM has already demonstrated. Or, you could go with a hermetically sealed stirling engine with internal linear alternators and electromagnetic synchronization of the pistons. How about a single-stage gas turbine with a secondary small steam turbine (based on alcohol as the working medium)?

My point is, there's no intrinsic need to stick with discontinuous combustion and all the fuel specificity, incomplete combustion, emissions and NVH that entails. Whether any of this makes *economic* sense is an entirely separate discussion.

In terms of energy security/global warming, even GM engineers (e.g. Dr. Grebe) will tell you that they could fit stop-start systems in 10-20 conventional cars for the incremental cost of manufacturing one plug-in hybrid, while delivering substantially higher aggregate benefits for the fleet.

Trouble is, what the American Joe Average wants is whatever pizazz and bragging rights the marketing gurus serve up. A little bit better than the norm is never anywhere near good enough. Everything has to be EXTREEEME TO THE MAX. First it was horsepower, then it was cupholders. So now its MPG's turn.

Mr. EE

I see a few of you questioning the use of in-wheel motors, as if it’s experimental and will never work. Fact is they’re already being used and one of the most promising solutions in my opinion.

See here:



I think your ideas for genset optimization are very interesting. I've seen you talk about that Stirling engine idea before - something you're working on yourself? ;)

With regards to eliminating the crankshaft - do you mean having each piston run in mechanical isolation of one another, with the electricity coming from a linear alternator, as per your Stirling engine concept?

Mr. EE

On the topic of unsprung weight, the Mini QED uses more powerful versions of the motors in Volvo ReCharge, the Mini QED’s unsprung weight increased by less than 2kg when compared to the original Mini. Plus you have the added advantage of a lower center of gravity. Thus unsprung weight should not be a problem with the Volvo ReCharge.



Why hasn't anyone tried a rotary engine as a genset? I know you don't need the HP, but I would think that you would only need 250 cc displacement rotor for this purpose. The space and weight savings are undeneiable.


Four in wheel motors can have the advantage in ABS and traction control. It is hard to beat four independent drive/brake elements keeping the car straight when necessary.

Bob T

After watching this piece its obvious that 4rd parties
will make the car of the future. What I see is making a
car is not what it used to be. Components like a motor
body and batteries can be sourced and assembled and if
GM and Ford and other are not careful they will loose
complete control of the auto industry. The TaTa is an example. It may not be a fantastic ride but it gets you there for 2500.


Re: wheel motors: take a close look at the data sheets referenced above and check out the mass, the diameter, the length, and the current required to get the torque. Then consider the cost of processing that current. Then multiply by the number of wheel motors you're talking about (minimum of two for a normal car).

The problem isn't whether they are technically feasible - they are. The problem is the cost and the weight. And what is the benefit of all that added weight and cost? You eliminate a simple, inexpensive, durable, light gearbox. It just doesn't make sense.

For a typical sedan (Taurus, Camry, Accord, Malibu, take your pick), you're going to need a minimum (repeat: minimum) of 60 kW motor and 2200 to 2300 Nm at the wheel (gradeability, acceleration, sustained highway speeds, passing performance). This is not a tire burner, its a family sedan with a sedate driver.

Now go check out the mass of the system you are putting together based on wheel motors. Don't forget to add the mass of the inverter and the long heavy cables needed to carry 1000A peak current for 10's of seconds without melting. Now don't forget what's going to happen to your bearings with all those radial loads imparted by the wheel loading on rough roads for 100,000 miles minimum.

Wheel motors are technically feasible - "ja, its doo-able" as one of my favorite German colleagues used to say - but its impractical, expensive, unsalable, etc., etc. It is very difficult to beat a nice planetary gearset, especially one that doesn't need to be shifted.



9x more energy in the pack in about the size of Prius HV pack. Dream on, way further than 2010! We won't have to wait that long for another "me too" to come up with the 80 miles range plug-in hybrid concept car.

Mr. EE

LOL @ 1000A

No offense Roy but you are clueless, I’d explain why but I don’t have the time. Get your EE degree and then we’ll talk.

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