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Volvo to build plug-in hybrid

Electric dream: Volvo president Stephen Odell promises the company’s first plug-in hybrid will be “a true dream car”.

Sweden's Volvo set to produce new plug-in diesel-electric hybrid model in 2012

2 Jun 2009

VOLVO this week announced in Sweden that it will start series production in 2012 of a new plug-in hybrid model using a diesel engine in conjunction with an electric motor.

Presenting one of three converted V70 wagons that will be used for testing and demonstration purposes in the coming months, Volvo Car Corporation president and CEO Stephen Odell promised that the new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will meet the company’s expected levels of safety and dynamic performance.

“I would go so far as to say that the plug-in electrical hybrid we will launch in 2012 will be a true dream car,” said Mr Odell presenting the V70 hybrid in Stockholm on Monday.

“With the innovative solution we will offer, the car owner will be able to drive a thoroughly enjoyable car packed with Volvo's renowned high safety and genuine driving pleasure.”

Volvo provided few technical details about the 2012 model other than it would have a diesel engine, a single large electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that will take five hours to recharge from a standard domestic wall socket.

The V70 hybrid will travel about 50km on electric power alone, aided by regenerative braking.

Although Volvo said the production model in 2012 “will feature somewhat different technology”, it claimed the launch of the demonstration vehicles was a step towards producing plug-in hybrid cars tailored to market needs.

18 center imageVolvo has established a joint-venture with Swedish energy company Vattenfall with which it developed plug-in technology used in the C30 PHEV concept car shown at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show.

Mr Odell said the partnership was being taken to the next level and that both companies believed production of plug-in hybrid cars and the development of infrastructure would generate new jobs and help Sweden remain at the cutting edge of advanced pro-environmental technology.

“This is an important business development for us, and our partnership with Vattenfall allows us to take a giant step toward offering our customers cars with an even smaller environmental footprint,” said Mr Odell.

“There is no doubt that the environmental issue is at the very top of Volvo Cars' product development agenda right now.

“Carbon dioxide emissions from our cars will be drastically reduced by the plan we are now implementing and our aggressive electrification strategy will put us in a leading position when it comes to environmentally optimised passenger transport.”

Mr Odell said Volvo was making giant strides toward meeting the targets set under its ‘DRIVe Towards Zero’ corporate mission, which includes a wide range of E85 ethanol-compatible models in Sweden.

However, while acknowledging that dedicated battery-powered city cars may be the next step, the company has no plans for producing an all-electric model.

Both Volvo and Vattenfall believe that electricity is well-suited as a power source for cars, noting that an electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes only about one-fifth the energy needed to power an engine running on fossil fuels.

Although expensive batteries will make plug-in hybrids more expensive to buy – which Volvo believes should be subsidised by governments – the company claims that fuel costs will be cut to roughly one-third of a regular diesel-powered car.

Vattenfall will provide the charging infrastructure in Sweden and to offer customers the opportunity to sign an agreement for renewable electricity sourced specifically from windpower or hydropower, as an alternative to the regular mix of electricity sources.

But, even in cases where the electricity does not come from renewable energy sources, Vattenfall president and CEO Lars Josefsson said there were many benefits from chargeable plug-in hybrids.

“Through electric power, we avoid the emissions from each individual car,” he said at Monday’s launch.

“Instead of petrol or diesel, the energy is derived from a few large power sources and Vattenfall is working hard to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from all electricity production. In Sweden, virtually all Vattenfall's electricity production is emission-free.

“We want to reinforce electricity's importance in society and its key role in solving climate issues. Through this cooperation we hope to be able to speed up the introduction of electric cars.”

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