Volvo has confirmed that it will begin selling production variants of a V60 plug-in hybrid wagon in 2012. The innovative hybrid design mixes a turbodiesel inline-five engine and an electric drivetrain, which Volvo claims returns the equivalent of 124 mpg.
The plug-in hybrid V60 uses a 2.4-liter inline-five turbodiesel to power the front wheels, and a 70-hp electric motor to power the rear wheels. A 12-kWh lithium-ion battery stores enough charge to propel the Volvo for up to 31 miles on electricity alone. At other times, the Volvo uses both its diesel engine and electric motor to provide the most efficient driving mode possible.
With both powertrains working together, the V60 can reportedly run to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds. However, driving efficiently can result in a 745-mile range on one tank of fuel. Volvo says that, based on electricity rates in Sweden, it would cost just €3.00 (about $4) to drive the V60 for 62 miles.
In preparation for the launch of the V60 plug-in hybrid, Volvo has been working to properly insulate the vehicle. When operating in all-electric mode, Volvo says the V60 is so quiet that occupants will hear normally muted sounds like diesel swishing in the fuel tank, the clicking of relays, or road and wind noise. However, when the diesel engine is operating, those noises will be muted and the Volvo will sound totally different.
“What's important here is to strike the right balance between traditional and new sources of noise,” said Volvo sound engineer Martin Spång. “Customers will get used to the fact that electric cars sound somewhat different. This will become part of these cars' personality.”
The plug-in hybrid won’t be sold here because the V60 wagon is not available in the U.S. market. However, Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby has said he wants to sell a plug-in hybrid on our shores by 2013 or 2014. Company officials won’t say whether the V60 is headed here, but if so, they confirm it would employ the same hybrid drivetrain as the European model, but with a gasoline engine in place of the 2.4-liter diesel. There also is a possibility that America might receive a version of the S60 with a similar plug-in hybrid drivetrain.