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Volvo Car to introduce first three Drive-E engines this fall

The first three engines from the Volvo Car Group’s new two-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain family will launch this fall. The diesel version features i-Art (intelligent-Accuracy Refinement Technology) injection technology (earlier post), and the most powerful gasoline version comes with a combination of a supercharger and a turbocharger.

The whole Drive-E engine range, which, during the development phase, was called Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) (earlier post), basically consists of two four-cylinder engine architectures, one common rail diesel and one direct-injected gasoline. They replace eight engine architectures on three platforms. Drive-E diesels will range from 120 to 230 hp (89 to 172 kW). Gasoline versions will start at 140 hp (104 kW) and go all the way up to 300-plus hp (224-plus kW).

I definitely see this as an historical moment for Volvo, because when we decided to start the development of the VEA, we also made a very, very important strategic decision to go for four cylinder turbo engines only, and to combine it with electrification.

—Lex Kerssemakers, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management, Volvo Car Group

Several levels of charging open up the flexibility to cover the whole range, from fuel-efficient derivatives through to high power and torque variants. In order to cover all customer requirements, some engines will also gain added performance via electrification or other technology.

We have created smaller, more intelligent engines with power curves that give exciting drivability compared with engines with more cylinders, yet deliver the fuel economy of only four cylinders. In addition, by adding electrification such as plug-in hybrid technology, we will reach power figures in the V8 territory.

Our four-cylinder engines will offer higher performance than today’s six-cylinder units and lower fuel consumption than the current four-cylinder generation. If you take a four-cylinder Drive-E engine versus any six-cylinder engine, there’s a massive weight and size reduction for the same power. Fuel economy savings are anything from 10 to 30 percent, depending on which engine you’re comparing it to.

—Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group

Initially, the new S60, V60 and XC60 will be available with three engines from the new engine family: the 306 hp (228 kW) gasoline turbo T6, the 245 hp (183 kW) T5 and the turbo diesel D4 with 181 hp (135 kW). The T5 and the D4 are also available in the new Volvo V70, XC70 and S80.

The Drive-E diesels feature i-Art technology. By using pressure feedback from each fuel injector instead of using a traditional single pressure sensor in the common rail, i-Art makes it possible to continuously monitor and adapt fuel injection per combustion in each of the four cylinders.

Increasing the rail pressure to an exceptionally high 2,500 bar, while adding the i-Art technology, can be described as the second step in the diesel revolution. It is a breakthrough comparable to our invention of the lambda sensor for the catalytic converter in 1976. It’s another world first in passenger cars for Volvo.

—Derek Crabb

Each injector has a small computer on top of it that monitors injection pressure. Using this information, the self-adapting i-Art system makes sure that the ideal amount of fuel is injected during each combustion cycle.

The combination of higher injection pressure and i-Art technology gives the customer an engine with improved fuel economy, considerably lower emissions and high performance output as well as a powerful sound character.

The diesels also feature refinements such as an advanced twin-turbo, reduced friction and a smart valve solution on the cooling system for a more rapid heat-up phase after a cold start.

On the gasoline side, using the supercharger to fill in the bottom end torque gives the engine a big, naturally aspirated feel. The mechanically linked compressor starts to function immediately at low revs, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up.

Other improvements to the Drive-E gasoline engines include friction-reduction measures such as ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump.

The power you get from an engine has nothing to do with its size; it is about the amount of air that you can get to flow through it. You can also make an engine more efficient if you make it smaller. So, if you can get more air through a smaller engine, you can still get the same power but at better efficiency.

When I was involved in Formula One engines, they were producing 1.5-litre turbo charged engines capable of over 900 hp. And these new Volvo Drive-E engines have in fact been tested on the racetrack already. The engine we used in Volvo’s WTCC car in 2011 was a Drive-E prototype and by the last race we set a new track record.

—Derek Crabb

The engines are teamed either with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox or an enhanced six-speed manual, tuned for improved fuel economy.

The Drive-E engines are prepared for future electrification from the start. Key components, such as the Integrated Starter Generator, can be connected easily, and the compact size of the four-cylinder engines means that the electric motor can be fitted in the front or rear of the vehicle. The battery pack will be located in the center of the car.

Volvo Cars developed the engines in-house. They are being built at Volvo Car Group’s engine plant in Skövde, Sweden.


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