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Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid up to the Challenge

Ready, set: Volvo's V60 plug-in hybrid will take its first official test-drive on public roads in the German capital city of Berlin next week.

Frugal Volvos to participate in eco-rally as brand CO2 emissions drop 13.8 per cent

Volvo logo12 May 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

VOLVO’S super-economical V60 Plug-in Hybrid – which made its world debut at the Geneva show in March – will take its first official test-drive on public roads in the German capital city of Berlin next week as part of the 11th Michelin Challenge Bibendum.

Alongside the electrified V60 at the event will be the C30 EV and diesel-powered V50 DRIVe, forming a line-up for the sustainability rally that Volvo believes will “emphasise the company’s leadership in combining environmental technology with a full luxury car experience”.

Volvo Car Corporation’s senior vice-president for research and development, Peter Mertens, said he expected the cars to perform well at the challenge, considering “the drives include acceleration and handling tests as well as energy-efficient driving”.

The Chinese-owned Swedish car-maker’s participation in the event comes as it is named “most improved” manufacturer in JATO’s review of car CO2 emissions, with its eco-centric DRIVe-branded range helping the company’s average emissions drop 13.8 per cent year-on-year, to below 158 grams per kilometre.

18 center imageLeft: Volvo V50 DRIVe, C30 EV, V60 plug-in.

Volvo claims the diesel-electric V60 – which is due to go into production next year and is on the wish list for Australia – is capable of a pure-electric driving range of up to 50km from its 12kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.9 seconds.

Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are quoted as just 1.9 litres per 100 kilometres and 49g/km respectively.

The Volvo’s figures stack up well next to General Motors’ petrol-electric range-extender Volt – which unlike the Volvo, only ever uses electric power to drive the wheels and uses internal combustion to generate electricity – has a claimed 40-80km zero-emissions range and takes nine seconds to accelerate from 0-100km/h.

US figures for the Volt’s fuel consumption range between 2.5 and 3.7L/100km.

In contrast to the conventionally powered V60 wagon, which was launched in Australia in March with a petrol and diesel engine line-up, the Plug-in Hybrid offers the driver three distinct driving modes.

‘Pure’ mode prioritises use of the electric motor for zero emissions driving, while the default ‘Hybrid’ mode combines diesel and electric power to “provide the optimal balance between driving pleasure and low environmental impact”.

‘Power’ mode extracts the maximum performance of the 2.5-litre D5 turbo-diesel’s 150kW and 440Nm plus the Electric Axle Rear Drive (ERAD)’s 50kW and 200Nm to provide stronger performance.

The C30 Electric hatchback has a range of up to 150km from its 24kW/h lithium-ion battery pack, which takes about eight hours to full recharge from a conventional 240-volt power socket.

The EV accelerates from zero to 100km/h in about 10.5 seconds, on the way to a modest top speed of 130km/h.

The V50 DRIVe, like its C30 DRIVe sibling that is available in Australia, is powered by a Euro 5-compliant 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with idle-stop that returns a Toyota Prius-like 3.9L/100km fuel consumption figure and CO2 output of 99g/km.

“We have moved ahead very quickly since we launched our first three 119 gram models in Paris in the autumn of 2008,” said Mr Mertens.

“The fact that we now have seven models below 120g/km, three of them below 100 grams, emphasises that few of our competitors can match us in the drive for increasingly eco-efficient cars.

“The V60 Plug-in Hybrid and the C30 represents our ambition to bring electric power into Volvo showrooms as soon as possible. The cars shown at Michelin Challenge Bibendum are part of test fleets that are very close to production quality.” The Challenge Bibendum originates from an event organised by French tyre manufacturer Michelin in 1998, to mark the 100th birthday of its famed Bibendum, or Michelin Man mascot.

The event took the form of a road rally from Clermont-Ferrand in central France to Paris, for vehicles exhibiting advanced technology. Michelin realised at the event that the automotive industry was already making progress in the field of sustainable mobility, so the company made the challenge a regular event, taking place in a different country each time.

As GoAuto reported in March, Volvo has announced plans to recruit up to 1200 new employees, mostly in research and development, and to expand its European production capacity over the next 12 months under its new Chinese owner Zhejiang Geely, which bought the brand from Ford for $US 1.8 billion last August.

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