Volvo recently announced pricing for its 2013 V60 plug-in wagon capable of 31 miles all-electric range at speeds up to 74 mph, as well as other diesel hybrid modes making it “the technically most advanced Volvo model ever – an electric car, hybrid car and muscle-car all rolled into one.”
Production for the all-wheel-drive showcase – co-developed by Volvo and Swedish utility Vattenfall – is scheduled for November 2012.
Volvo says the initial Euro-market production of 1,000 Silver-painted V60s will command €57,000 ($73,600) apiece (including Value Added Tax (VAT), before green incentives, to vary regionally, and about $20,000 more than the European Volt). In the UK, prices will start at £45,000 ($73,000). Plans for 2013 are to build 4,000-6,000 units for the 2014 model year.
Some of you may have read that this vehicle will come to the U.S. in 2013 or 2014. Yesterday, Volvo spokesman, Per-Åke Fröberg confirmed only that it might arrive here, but if it does it will be as a gasoline model.
“Since the V60 Plug-In Hybrid has a diesel engine, it won’t be sold in the U.S., given the extremely small market for premium diesel cars,” he said. “We are, however, looking at using the same technology with a gasoline engine but I can’t confirm any time line.”
Nonetheless, the “three cars in one” V60 might be interesting to some of you, so we’ll highlight (and link to) a few more salient points for your perusal.
The AWD, six-speed automatic transmission vehicle will come with a T6 badge as it has the same horsepower range as the highly capable petrol T6. The V60 Plug-In is strong enough even to include a trailer hitch.
Its front wheels are powered by a five-cylinder 2.4-liter turbodiesel producing 215 horsepower and 325 pound-feet torque.
The rear axle is powered by an electric motor producing 70 horsepower and 148 pound-feet torque and supplied by an 11.2-kwh lithium-ion battery pack under the rear floor.
Volvo says the battery consists of 10 modules each containing 20 cells. These 200 cells are monitored by a sophisticated battery management system. Integrated water-cooling is driven by the car’s climate control unit.
As Volvo explains, three pushbuttons give the car three entirely different temperaments:
• In Pure mode the car is powered solely by its electric motor as much as possible. If the battery pack has been recharged with electricity from renewable sources, its range is up to 31 miles [capable of speeds up to 74 mph] and its carbon dioxide emissions are zero. The electric range varies with terrain, climate and driving style.
• Hybrid is the standard setting whenever the car is started. The diesel engine and electric motor cooperate to ensure optimal balance between driving pleasure and environmental footprint. CO2 emission (NEDC, mixed driving cycle for certification) is 49g/km [65 percent lower than a V60 with the same engine]. Fuel consumption on this same [optimistic] drive cycle is 1.9l/100km [124 mpg]. The car has a total range of up to 620 miles.
• In Power mode the technology is optimized to give the car the maximum possible power. The diesel engine and electric motor have a total power output of 215+70  horsepower and maximum torque of 325+148  pound-feet. The electric motor’s lightning-quick torque delivery contributes to the car’s acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds.
Recharging time via one of Europe’s 230-volt home outlets ranges from 3.5 hours at 16 amps to 7.5 hours at 6 amps. While recharging, the passenger compartment can be pre-heated or cooled for comfort’s sake, as well as to pre-cool the battery to an optimal 68-86°F, and also to maximize electric range.
When switched to AWD mode, instead of mechanical power transfer, the central control unit distributes power between the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically-driven rear axle.
In this mode, the diesel engine operates continuously and the generator ensures that the charge level in the battery pack is sufficient to supply the rear axle with the necessary power. Because the electric motor is outmatched by the powerful diesel, torque to the rear wheels is limited and AWD is limited to 74 mph.
The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has two heating systems. In electric mode the car uses a PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) air heater. It also has a diesel-powered heater.
Also noteworthy is the V60′s two-stage braking. When the driver presses the brake pedal, the system starts braking the rear axle’s electric motor. This braking energy is then used to recharge the car’s battery pack. The mechanical brakes are activated only when the situation requires more braking power than the rear axle can provide.
The hybridization of this wagon asks a hefty premium over, say, Volvo’s S60 wagon built on the same platform – or the Volt, which is priced in Europe at €41,950 ($54,489, incl. VAT) – but Volvo is optimistic.
“There is immense interest from the markets. We are convinced that the first thousand cars will be sold even before production gets under way next autumn,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. “With the V60 Plug-in Hybrid we boost our leading position in electrification. None of our competitors can offer customers an equally ingenious car. It elevates hybrid technology to an entirely new level.”
About 30 percent of total volume will go to Sweden and the other Nordic countries, Volvo says. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Britain will have a share of between 5 and 15 percent each.
In its core markets Sweden, Germany and Netherlands, V60 co-developer Vattenfall will offer buyers a “starter pack” including 100-per cent renewable electricity generated by Vattenfall´s own production facilities and a wall-mounted charging station.
If imported to the U.S. with a gasoline engine, and sans the European VAT surcharge, we shall see when it will arrive, how much it will sell for, and how successful it might be.
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