Not only is the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid the first diesel-powered PHEV, it allows the driver to mix and match powertrain options to tailor the vehicle’s performance from an energy-sipping all-electric commuter to a robust 285 HP sport wagon. Additionally there’s a clever technology that allows the driver to pre-heat or pre-cool the car before starting a journey via an iPhone app, all announced Monday by Volvo.
Volvo says that by simply pressing a button the driver can change the character of the V60, selecting an EV (electric vehicle) with a range of up to 31 miles, or a high-efficiency hybrid with carbon dioxide emissions averaging just 67 g/mile, or even a muscular fun-to-drive car with a combined output of 285 HP, 473 ft/lbs. of torque and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds.
The driver chooses the preferred driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel: PURE, HYBRID and POWER. The interaction between diesel and electric power is handled via a computerized control system. The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid are driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-liter D5 turbodiesel, which produces 215 HP and maximum torque of 325 ft/lbs. through a six-speed automatic transmission. The rear axle features a 70 HP Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a unique implementation of a hybrid powertrain.
“In order to get true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer them the opportunity to drive with low CO2 emissions without taking away the adrenaline rush that promotes genuine driving pleasure. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has all the traditional properties of a genuine sports wagon. What we’ve done is to spice it up with spearhead technology that allows the driver to choose: zero emissions, high-efficiency hybrid or full-on performance. Just select the mode that suits best,” says Stefan Jacoby, Volvo’s CEO.
HYBRID is the default mode whenever the car is started. The diesel engine and electric motor interact to provide a balance between performance and low environmental impact. In HYBRID mode, the car’s total range is up to 745 miles (or about the distance from San Jose to Salt Lake City on a single tank).
In PURE mode the car runs only on its electric motor. If the battery has been recharged using electricity from a renewable source, the driving range is up to 31 miles with zero emissions of C02. While 31 miles doesn’t sound far, consider that the average commute distance in the Silicon Valley is 18 miles. With an electrical top-off before leaving work, the average round-trip commute could be driven without starting the diesel engine.
In POWER mode the vehicle’s technology operate simultaneously for the highest possible performance. The diesel engine and electric motor have a combined power output 215 HP + 70 HP. The electric motor’s lightning-quick torque delivery contributes to the car’s 0 to 62 mph acceleration time of 6.9 seconds, which compares well to the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid’s time of 6.5 seconds.
Additional, selecting the AWD modes activates electric all-wheel drive. Instead of the mechanical power transmission of the conventional AWD system, the central control unit manages torque distribution to the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically powered rear axle.
The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is recharged via a regular power socket (230V/6A, 10A or 16A) at home or in a parking lot. The charging time depends on the level of the current, ranging for 3.0 to 7.5 hours, which can also be monitored on an iPhone app (check out the video to the left).
And for those hot San Jose summer days, the car’s driver can preheat or cool the passenger compartment during the recharging process. The climate control pre-conditioning is programmed via a timer integrated into the car’s setup menu or it can be triggered remotely via an iPhone or other select mobile device.
Expect the 2012 V60 Hybrid to hit the four Volvo dealers in the area (San Jose, Palo Alto, Burlingame, and Monterey) sometime between late this year to early next year.