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Volvo Car Corporation to Introduce Diesel Plug-in Hybrid in Europe in 2012

PHEV battery pack in V70 demonstrator without damage after a full scale rear crash test. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Corporation is postponing its plans to produce a full hybrid based on a diesel engine and instead will introduce a series-produced plug-in diesel hybrid (PHEV) in Europe as early as 2012. The plug-in will support up to a 50 km (31 mile) all-electric range—sufficient to cover the daily transport needs of 75% of European drivers. For longer distances, the diesel automatically takes over. The combined range is about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles). Carbon dioxide emissions will average out at 49 g/km, with fuel consumption of 1.9 liters per 100 km (124 mpg US), according to the NEDC certification driving cycle.

The strategy that Volvo is adopting to start series-producing plug-in cars as early as 2012 is to exploit existing architecture for major components such as the body and engine. The company says it is saving time by installing the battery and electric motor beside a conventional driveline instead of waiting for an entirely new generation of car models.

The diesel engine will be optimized to run on renewable synthetic diesel, and will meet future exhaust emission requirements. The diesel engine can be run separately or in combination with the electric motor for optimal power and energy utilization. For example, the diesel engine can support or replace electric power at high speeds or when the battery charge drops, while the electric motor can offer additional torque at low engine revs.

19630_1_5A V70 plug-in hybrid demonstrator. The series-production PHEVs will feature “somewhat different” technology. Click to enlarge.

V70 PHEV Demonstrators. In January 2007, Volvo Cars and energy supplier Vattenfall launched a joint project with the aim of testing and developing plug-in technology. A new company was founded, V2 Plug-in-Hybrid Vehicle Partnership, as a result of this initiative.

The partners put three Volvo V70 PHEV demonstration cars on the road in the summer of 2009. These will combine a front-wheel drive diesel engine with a rear-wheel drive electric motor, powered by an 11.3 kWh Li-ion battery pack, of which 8 kWh is usable. The car will support both residential charging (approx. five hours) as well as a 32A fast charge. (Earlier post.) Volvo Car Corporation has selected lithium-ion battery systems designed and produced by Ener1, Inc. for the plug-in demo cars. (Earlier post.)

When announcing the V70 PHEV demonstrators, Volvo indicated that the cars planned to go into series production in 2012 will feature “somewhat different” technology.

The purchase price of a plug-in hybrid is expected to be considerably higher than for a conventional diesel car since the batteries are still expensive, says Volvo. Fuel costs on electric power will be about one-third compared with driving on diesel, and this partially compensates for the higher purchase price. Volvo Cars assesses that plug-in hybrids will be commercially viable for certain customer categories in 2012, gradually widening in appeal as battery price and performance continuously improve.

We are focusing strongly on plug-in hybrids in order to meet the demands for low CO2 emissions and to provide sustainable road transportation. We naturally expect that the relevant authorities will offer subsidies to boost developments, speeding up the creation of a market for this type of car.

—Stephen Odell, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo’s dealers will offer customers who buy a plug-in hybrid a special contract for the supply of renewable energy. This agreement has been created in cooperation with the company’s partner, Swedish electricity supplier Vattenfall.



75% fuel saving with only 11kWh of battery capacity is good news.

Replace the full size diesel with a small lean petrol or methane engine for highway cruising ~30kW should be enough.

A 2 cylinder EcoBoost engine could do the job and reduce the weight of the power train whilst also allowing the front of the car to be shaped far more aerodynamically



Agree with you that the ICE genset/propulsion could be much smaller, but on a much lighter vehicle. The V-70 is a rather heavy square type vehicle and more hp are required to keep it at highway cruising speed and manage hills etc.

For acceptable highway performance, with much smaller (15 - 25 hp) genset, PHEVs must use lighter (under 1000 Kg), more aerodynamic (better than 0.20) vehicles, electrified higher efficiency ancillaries, low friction tires etc.

One cannot expect a heavy Hummer type PHEV to use small batteries and small genset. The EV1 design whould be more appropriate.


I am in favor of small battery PHEVs.

They should bring out PHEVs with 10, 20 mile range and see what people make of them. Presumably, they would cost much less than larger battery ones.

You could use a GPS and machine learning software to learn your commute, and optimise the battery use based on what you are doing.

If you have short commutes, there is no problem. If you have longer ones, it can only use the ICE for the highway bit and keep the EV power for stop/start parts of the drive.
It could go as far as recommending the use of a larger battery, if it felt that the trips would benefit from it (or predicting the fuel usage if you added more battery power).
You could probably predict this while specifying the car anyway.

Use intelligence (machine or otherwise) to substitute for battery storage.

If the battery problem gets solved, the technology can fade out, if not, it remains useful.

To keep development short, I would leave the existing diesel engine in it.


The 4 cylinder EcoBoost is rated at 160 odd hp. 2 cylinders would still put out ~70hp at max and 20-30 at a cruise.

Small engines and small batteries, keep it cheap and light.


Will it arive in the US?
If this is priced less than the Volt, then they got winner.

BTW "The combined range is about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles)"!!!
They're lugging around way too much fuel. Tank could be almost half that size.

Stan Peterson

This seems to be a hurried almost jury-rigged implementation so as to be only a yea ran half behind the VOLT, and is not quite a pure EREV nor a usual HSD Parallel-series design. But still overall mpge is in the triple digits.

This confirms that its is very reasonable to expect the published Volt mpge at 230 mpge city, and about that same mileage 125+ mpge combined.

I would say the VOLT is proving to be a GAME CHANGER. The House of Saud should be quacking in their desert sandals.

Stan Peterson

There is another observation that is cogent. Americans with their extended cities and suburbs drive more miles daily. The US average is that 78% of Americans drive 40 or fewer miles per day. Volvo has determined that European drive shorter distances with their older more compact cities and 75% travel 31 miles per day or less.

That says the European Volt,(Ampera) could have a smaller battery than its American version, by a ratio of about 75%. They would stil achieve the benefits of electric first mileage that makes EREV fossil optimization so great. That could make Euro Volts and Opel versions considerably more inexpensive.

Sure enough, Volvo's battery at almost 12 KWh is almost 75% of the size of the Volt 16 KWh battery specification.

Henry Gibson

The recent turbine car gives an example of how it can be done. There is no way the turbine can drive the wheels directly without much complication. An efficient diesel cannot also be expected to drive the wheels directly which is why most locomotives are diesel electric.

We also do not need fast acceleration or very high speeds. Any public official should call for the immediate reduction of roadway speeds if he is truly interested in efficiency. ..HG..


Perfect news. What wories - request for subisdies.
Volvo V70 would be perfectly enough 30 kW genset. I am 100 % sure about that. But this version has no genst but completely imdependent conventonal power train.

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