2012 Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, 2011 Geneva Auto Show Exclusive Preview

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Journalists look over the 2011 Volvo V60 PHEV in final preparations before the 2011 Geneva Motor Show

Journalists look over the 2011 Volvo V60 PHEV in final preparations before the 2011 Geneva Motor Show

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In a little over a week, Volvo will be unveiling its latest plug-in electric vehicle to the world at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show.

But just like last week when we were given an exclusive pre-Geneva peek at the Nissan ESFlow electric sportscar concept in Frankfurt, Volvo invited us a few weeks ago to its headquarters in a wintry Gothenburg, Sweden to get a U.S. exclusive peek at its answer to a practical plug-in hybrid. 

The Basics

The 2012 Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is a through-the-road plug-in electric hybrid station-wagon offering a conventional front-wheel drive system driven by a 2.4 liter Diesel engine and a six-speed automatic transmission and an all-electric rear-wheel drive system driven by a 52 kilowatt AC motor.  

All of the usual features you’d expect in a car are there, including air-conditioning, Volvo’s legendary safety systems and regenerative braking. 

Volvo V60 PHEV, Pre 2011 Geneva Preview

Volvo V60 PHEV, Pre 2011 Geneva Preview

Enlarge Photo

Based on Volvo’s 2011 V60 station-wagon, it promises a combined fuel economy of 124 mpg in hybrid mode, an all-electric range of 30 miles, seating for five adults and nearly 11 cubic feet of luggage space.

The V60 PHEV will recharge using a Level 2 240V, 16A charger in less than 4 hours. 

Three Modes

The V60 PHEV has three main modes of operation: hybrid, all-electric, and power. The modes are selected by pressing the respective selection button on the car’s center console. A fourth mode, which can be entered at any time and is only used when the car’s traction control system needs it, enables an all wheel drive (AWD) system to give the V60 PHEV sure-footed manners in poor road conditions. 

Through-the-Road Hybrid

The V60 PHEV combines Volvo’s D5 5 cylinder common-rail Diesel engine producing 215 horsepower at the front wheels with an electric rear axle drive (ERAD) system completing the all-wheel drive setup. 

In default driving mode, selected at startup or by pressing the “hybrid” button on the dashboard, the car uses a mixture of power from the Diesel engine and the 12 kilowatt-hour (8 kilowatt-hours used) LGChem battery pack to provide driving force to all wheels. 

Importantly, this mode switches between the powertrains automatically to provide as energy efficient a drive as possible. 

To preserve power however, the driver can enter the car into a charge-preserving mode by pressing the “hybrid” button on the dashboard a second time to prevent the battery from being drained. 

In this mode, the car is capable of traveling up to 745 miles on a full charge and a full tank of fuel, smashing the 2011 Chevrolet Volt’s 350 miles in combined mode by a long way.

All Electric Mode

With the press of a switch, Volvo says the V60 PHEV enters a zero-emissions mode capable of providing up to 30 miles of all-electric driving, although top speed is limited to 62 mph. This means that for most freeway journeys the V60 PHEV will be burning Diesel, with the all-electric mode being reserved for lower speed driving. 

When the battery pack is depleted, or additional power is required through accelerator kickdown, the Diesel engine will kick in, supplying as much power as required. 

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Comments (11)
  1. any idea on price ?

  2. Game-changer? Obviously it offers extra utility compared to the Volt but how do the production economics of the PHEV concept work out for this car? Clearly the cost of the electric drivetrain comes on top of the cost of a regular V60 diesel+ the cost of making the two systems work together+ the cost of a double heating system. All for probably about 25 real world all electric miles per day? Doesn't sound like much of a game-changer to me in terms of something that could be priced to sell in large numbers, although this double drivetrain concept seems less complex than the Volt's battery electric+ICE generator/direct drive concept. The C30 EV seems the more promising concept in terms of cost/benefit.

  3. You can't talk about cost-benefit until you know the cost. But I bet this vehicle will exceed $50,000. The current V60, if sold in the US, would cost around 40,000. It doesn't take much math ability to figure the hybrid adds another $10,000 to the sticker. How many will be sold at that price? Definitely enough to make it anything other than a niche vehicle.

  4. Just bring me my Volt!

  5. It's a game changer because it's a larger car with plug-in option. It's not a four-seat Volt. It can tow, and it is happy in cold weather.
    yes, it's expensive, but it could prove the ideal cross-over vehicle or sole car for a family wanting the EV experience but also needing a vehicle to two boats, horseboxes etc at the weekends.
    It's just another choice in a widening market. That has to be a great thing.

  6. Phew sounds excellent. Always wondered why there were not more Diesel Hybrids.... Better fuel consumption and all the other benefits. My only issue (sorry for this) is my personal (probably illogical) dislike of Volvos! Still shows the technology is out there and lets hope others see and follow. New technology is always more expensive to begin with, my hope for Hybrids and other EVs is that the price soon begins to match (near enough) to mainstream fossil burners.

  7. @ Nikki; like you said it's another choice in a widening market and I agree that is a great thing. My point was that the double drivetrain thing doesn't seem to have the potential to ever become more than niche because of the complexity and cost involved. That's why the V60 PHEV might be a gamechanger in it's own niche but not in the overall carmarket which is unfortunate because the concept would go a long way in weaning the world off oil. Also the fact that a minimum 16KWH battery is required to get the (tailor made for the Volt)$7500 taxcredit is not going to help this 12KWH vehicle in the US market. A bigger battery wouldn't just give this car a more serious all electric range so it would make more sense, it would actually make it less expensive for the US buyer...

  8. 124 mpg AND a 745-mile range and AWD IS a game-changer, even at $50k. AND it's fast? AND it's spacious, and can tow? No car anywhere can do those things at any price currently. The Volt can't touch these specs.
    This relentless poo-pooing of every hybrid / eco-friendly vehicles is a little silly. Pricing's speculative at this point, but it's fairly easy seeing someone in the market for a slow, gas-hogging $50k luxo-barge opting for something like this instead.
    The diesel combo is the missing link -- supposedly America doesn't like diesels, but we're learning. VW's 44-mpg TDI wagon is doing quite well.
    Bring it here, please, Volvo.

  9. It looks interesting, but it's pointless comparing Volvo's "PowerPoint" numbers to the real EPA Volt numbers. The proof will be in the pudding, as they say. 11 cu. feet of cargo is only 0.6 cu ft. more than the Volt, which also has the fold-down seat hatchback versatility.
    Also, I'm skeptical that the stop/start transitions in a diesel like that can be made very smooth, but ICBW. The Volt's is seamless in feel, but you can often hear the engine in around-town driving in extended range mode.
    Also, the limitation of 60MPH means you're not hitting the highway without burning fuel. How many average commutes don't include 65MPH+ interstates? I shudder to think of the highway clog of these plug-in Volvos keeping their speed under 60 to stay "green". Within its range, the Volt OTOH can do any commute at any speed and not burn any liquid fuel.
    So you can get excited all you want, I'm feeling the better solution is already here, in the form of the Volt I already own. (If you're one of the few people that need to tow, then the Volvo gets much more interesting.)

  10. I think the advantages over a Volt would include 5 passenger capacity, towing, and a much sportier nature. If you can plug in at work, could prob do a lot of commuting with electrons only. Even if it was 50K, I would give it a good hard look. A really green car that would work well in a northern climate might be a niche, but if they have it developed anyway....

  11. Why this car would not be available in the USA is beyond belief. Why are the USA EPA standards dramatically different from Euro standards to the point that the same cars are not available in both places?
    I would pay a premium for the V60 hybrid diesel ASSUMING the car would last 20 years. Not unreasonable for a well made Euro car.
    Volvo's US sales are declining...they need a game changer.

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