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Plug-in diesel-electric Volvo delayed for Oz until 2014

Three-in-one: Volvo says its V60 plug-in diesel-electric wagon is part EV, part hybrid and part muscle car.

Volvo V60 plug-in diesel hybrid still more than two years from local debut

15 Dec 2011

VOLVO has released full details of its world-first plug-in diesel hybrid, the V60 PHEV wagon, before it enters production next year – but Australia is now unlikely to see the car here before early 2014.

The Swedish maker’s Australia managing director Matt Braid told GoAuto at the Melbourne motor show in July, when the plug-in V60 made its local debut, that the car was on track to arrive here as the brand’s first electrified vehicle next year or by early 2013 at the latest.

Volvo Car Australia has now confirmed that a strictly limited production run of 1000 cars – all painted the same Electric Silver hue – will roll off the line from November next year for overseas markets as a 2013 model, but none of these are earmarked for Australia.

A larger batch of between 4000 and 6000 cars will be built for model year 2014, and VCA public affairs manager Jaedene Hudson told GoAuto the first local examples were likely to come from this production run, making Australia’s first V60 PHEVs a year later than expected.

The Nordic region is predictably expected to be the largest market for the car, with around 30 per cent to be allocated to Sweden and neighbouring countries.

18 center imageOther European markers such as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Britain will receive the lion’s share of the remainder, with each market securing between five and 15 per cent of the production run.

Volvo will begin taking orders in Europe for the car from early next year, and has indicated prices will be somewhere in the vicinity of EUR 57,000 ($A74,000). VCA told GoAuto in Sweden in October that it hoped to price the ground-breaking model at less than $75,000 here.

President and CEO of Volvo Cars Stefan Jacoby said he expects the initial production run to sell out well before initial production commences.

“There is immense interest from the markets,” he said. “We are convinced that the first thousand cars will be sold even before production gets under way next autumn.”

Typical of an electrified vehicle, the brand expects the fleet sector to make up the majority of sales, with projections that up to 80 per cent of total sales will become company cars.

The V60 plug-in is the first car of its kind anywhere in the world because, unlike Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 and 508 RXH Hybrid4 diesel-electric models, the V60 diesel hybrid can also be recharged from an external power source.

The Peugeots use a more traditional hybrid set-up in which the diesel combustion engine diverts power to the battery pack. The 3008 Hybrid4’s fuel efficiency of 3.8 litres per 100km is double that of the Volvo, while the 508 RXH’s is higher still.

Peugeot is likely to beat the Volvo to showroom floors with its 3008 Hybrid4 and 508RXH diesel hybrids, however, both of which are likely to arrive here in 2013.

The production V60 PHEV is differentiated from the prototype model which we drove in Sweden in October (see separate story) by its new paintwork, 17-inch alloys, integrated tailpipes, glossy black grill, aerodynamic front spoiler and unique badges.

The interior is mostly standard V60, with blue-grey wood inlays on the floating dash and standard features like speed-dependent electric steering, front and rear parking sensors and a high-end multimedia system.

A first for Volvo is the fully-digitised Driver Information Monitor, which sees the traditional analogue gauges swapped for a one-piece LED screen.

Drivers can also communicate with the car via a smartphone app that controls functions like air-conditioning and features a reminder to put the car on charge at a predetermined time.

Described as the most advanced Volvo ever, the company calls the V60 PHEV three cars in one – part EV, part hybrid car and part muscle car. It should also seat five people and their luggage, and achieve the same five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating as the regular V60.

The bulk of the V60’s power comes courtesy of a 2.4-litre D5 five-cylinder turbo-diesel unit that delivers 160kW of power at 4000rpm and a thumping 440Nm of torque between 1500 and 3000rpm through the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The rear axle, meanwhile, is driven by a 52kW/200Nm electric motor powered by a 11.2kWh lithium-ion battery installed under the floor of the loading compartment.

The sophisticated battery is made up of 10 modules, each containing 20 cells, with an integrated computer that monitors the system and compares temperature and charge level in each of these 200 cells.

The battery pack has its own water-cooling system driven by the car’s on-board climate-control unit.

The rear tailgate gets a unique D6 badge, since the PHEV’s combined outputs place it on par with the flagship T6 turbocharged six-cylinder petrol models.

Three buttons mounted on the floating central fascia control the car’s three different driving modes: Pure, hybrid or power.

In Pure, the car relies on the electric motor as much as possible, with a total range of up to 50km. Volvo says this is enough for the daily needs of most drivers.

A regenerative braking system on the rear axle helps recharge the battery pack, with the front mechanical brakes only kicking in when heavy stopping power is needed.

Hybrid, which is the standard setting upon start-up, combines both power sources over a range of up to 1000km, with claimed consumption of 1.9L/100km (half that of the Toyota Prius) and carbon dioxide emissions of just 49 grams per kilometre – some 40g/km less than the Prius’ 89g/km benchmark.

The electric all-wheel drive unit in the middle of the car balances traction needs according to driving conditions, but torque to the rear wheels is limited due to the electric motor’s lower output and four-wheel-drive is only active at up to 120km/h.

Power mode optimises the drivetrain for maximum performance, with combined outputs of 212kW and an enormous 640Nm helping the car sprint to 100km/h in just 6.2 seconds.

There is also a ‘Save For Later’ button that charges the battery via the diesel engine on the move, to help secure about 20km of pure EV driving.

Volvo says the car can be charged with 6-amp to 16-amp electricity supplies via a plug-in socket. The cabin can also be heated or cooled while the car is charging before start-up.

Times vary between 7.5 hours with a 6A supply and 4.5 hours with 10A to just 3.5 hours when 16A is available. A quick burst of 10 amps for 45 minutes provides enough charge to drive 10km.

European energy company Vattenfall is also offering packages to some European markets that include a wall-mounted charging station powered exclusively by renewable sources.

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