At the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volvo Car Corporation will reveal an innovative petrol plug-in hybrid, which is going to be a unique blend of petrol and electric power. The project is called Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept and it is an electric car, a highly economical hybrid and a powerful high-performance car. All this comes in one package! The great news is that the driver can choose which one of the options they want to drive, with only one touch: there is a button, with which the driver decides how the available power from the combination of the high-performance petrol engine and the electric motor is to be used.

This is undeniably world-class petrol plug-in hybrid technology. Moreover it features a state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine from the upcoming Volvo Environmental Architecture engine family. However we will have to wait a couple of years to see it reaching the American showrooms. As we have already stated, the driver chooses the driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel. Through these buttons the car "receives" three different modes: Pure, Hybrid or Power. In the first one, the vehicle is powered solely by its electric motor. The range according to the European certification driving cycle NEDC is 28 miles. In the next, Hybrid mode (which by the way is the standard setting whenever the car is started), the petrol engine and electric motor co-operate to provide maximum driving pleasure with minimum environmental impact. According to the European certification driving cycle NEDC, CO2 emissions are 53 g/km (2.3 l/100 km) - which translates into fuel economy of over 100 mpg. The car has a total operating range of up to 600 miles (960 km). The last mode is a technological optimization which creates the optimum possible power. Here the petrol engine with 280 hp (206 kW) and 380 Nm (280 lb.-ft.) is combined with the electric motor with 70 hp (52 kW) and 200 Nm (148 lb.-ft.). This results in car's acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h 6.1 seconds.

Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept features three Modes

In addition the front wheels of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept are powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine from the forthcoming VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) engine family. This is the engine which produces 280 horsepower (206 kW) and maximum torque of 380 Nm (280 lb.-ft.). Power delivery to the wheels comes via a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission. Moreover the concept car carries a "T8" badge, which emphasises the combined 350 horsepower of the high-performance four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. The highlight here is that this moves the car into a range previously occupied solely by eight-cylinder engines.

Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept

In details, VEA is a modular range of diesel and petrol engines. To be more precise, the petrol versions come with direct injection, minimised internal losses and balance shafts for maximised comfort. Several levels of turbocharging open up for flexibility that encompasses the whole range from high power and torque variants to extremely fuel-efficient derivatives. In addition certain engines will have added performance via hybrid drive or other spearhead technology. The modular format is based on a standard of 500cc (30 cubic inches) per cylinder for optimum thermodynamics. Additionally, it could also be used to develop three-cylinder engines. What is more important here is that VEA offers several advantages. The first thing to be mentioned is that the number of unique parts is reduced. Therefore this promotes manufacturing efficiency, quality assurance and efficiency of new development projects. Secondly, the new powertrains are considerably lighter weight than the present engines with similar performance. Next, the fuel economy is improved by up to 35 percent, again in comparison to the engines with similar performance. And at last, the modularity and compact transverse design are also ideal for future electrification developments.

In addition the engine in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept has no conventional starter motor or alternator. On its place there is an Integrated Starter motor and Generator (ISG) connected to the crankshaft, which is located between the engine and the transmission. In details, the ISG is capable of delivering the additional 34 kW (45 hp) during acceleration. Moreover it also charges the battery during braking. Furthermore the rear axle of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is driven by an electric motor which produces 70 horsepower (52 kW). It is supplied with power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept

The battery pack can recharged from a regular power outlet, at home or at a parking place. The recharging time varies with the current. If 220V is available, a full charge with 12A takes just 3.5 hours. On the other hand, with the 110V/12A a full charge takes 7.5 hours. In addition it is also possible while recharging the car to heat or cool the passenger compartment. Therefore this also means that more battery power is available to propel the car.

There is no doubt that the car will feature an infotainment system, called Volvo Sensus. It will keep the driver constantly updated on everything that makes the journey simpler, more efficient and more entertaining. For example it can show the best route to a destination depending on whether the driver prioritises low energy consumption, the fastest route or the shortest distance. Moreover it can also show Low Emission Zones where sufficient capacity is needed for running on pure electricity. Next instance is that it provides information about charging stations with access to renewable electricity or locations along the route with access to quick-charging facilities. The driver can also connect to the car via a mobile phone application. Thus way making it possible for the driver to see remotely the battery's charge level, remaining range, and the location and capacity of the nearest recharging station. Moreover via the app, it is also possible to verify if the charger cable is hooked up and it is also possible to pre-program the car's interior climate.

The exterior of the Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is painted in white colour and the 21-inch wheels enhance the muscular appearance. On the other hand the interior includes unique detailing and colours, such as sober dark-blue leather upholstery and inlays of blue-grey wood. The instruments have been tailored to give the driver all the necessary information about petrol and electricity consumption, battery charge level, remaining range and so on.

Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept

Moreover the electric four-wheel drive in this exceptional concept is activated by pressing the AWD (All Wheel Drive) button. Instead of the mechanical power transfer of conventional four-wheel drive, the central control unit distributes power between the petrol-driven front wheels and the electrically driven rear axle. This electric four-wheel drive system has been designed to provide better traction when starting and when driving on slippery roads. The car will be designed in order to give the driver the option to choose to save battery power for later in order to drive on pure electricity later in. For instance while driving in an urban green zone or in the heart of a city. When Save is activated, the generator charges and tops up the battery pack if necessary. The goal is to ensure sufficient battery power for about 12 miles (20 km) of driving on electricity.

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Source: Volvo