Volvo V60 Plug-In Diesel Hybrid: Quick Drive Of NY Auto Show Debut

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Diesel cars are at their most economical on long, steady journeys, and plug-in hybrids are at their best for shorter trips. So why haven't the two been combined yet?

Actually, they have--and you're looking at the very first one.

The Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is the first diesel plug-in hybrid vehicle. It will make its first U.S. appearance at next week's New York Auto Show, though as a display model only--it's not expected to be sold in the U.S. in its current form.

Instead, the U.S. iteration of Volvo's plug-in hybrid technology will likely be offered in a couple of years in the next-generation XC60 crossover.

Volvo showed an XC60 Plug-In Hybrid concept last year, at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

First diesel hybrid with a plug

The concept of a diesel hybrid has already been explored by Peugeot, Citroen and Mercedes-Benz, but Volvo is the first company to take the concept and add a plug-in battery pack that can recharge on grid power.

Volvo saw the potential in matching its 2.4-liter 'D5' five-cylinder turbodiesel engine with a rear-mounted electric motor and plug-in rechargeable battery. In theory, this could be the ideal mix for real-world economy.

The V60 is, like the recent Peugeot and Citroen diesel hybrids (also not sold in the U.S.), known technically as a "through-the-road hybrid."

A 215-horsepower, five-cylinder turbodiesel sits up front, and powers the front wheels through a 'Geartronic' torque-converter automatic transmission.

Starter-generator system

On that diesel engine, an 'Integrated Starter Generator' replaces the usual alternator, and as the name suggests can be used to start the engine (it's directly linked to the crankshaft) or used to top up the batteries--quite similar to the General Motors "eAssist" mild-hybrid system.

The large lithium-ion battery pack has a total capacity of 11.2 kilowatt-hours, though only 8 kWh of the pack is used--which Volvo says improves battery life significantly, as the pack is never fully charged or discharged.

The battery sends power to a rear-mounted electric motor, offering peak power of 68 horsepower and sustained output of 27 hp.

Most of the battery's energy comes from plugging in to recharge, but like any hybrid, the car boosts efficiency and regains a handful of miles via regenerative braking. The diesel engine's overrun can also put energy back in the battery if it's not needed to propel the car.

More numbers: This Volvo is quick, sprinting to 62 mph in as little as 6.1 seconds in 'Power' mode (maximum engine and electric outputs combined), with a top speed of 143 mph. Electric-only top speed is 78 mph.

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Combined fuel consumption on the European cycle is 129 mpg. Volvo freely admits you're unlikely to see this number in daily driving, and it's simply what the car achieves in testing.

Like Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-In drivers, you will see either much less or much more, depending on how frequently you recharge, how long your journeys are and what you've had for breakfast. More useful, though equally variable, is the quoted 31 miles of electric range in 'Pure' mode.

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Comments (18)
  1. This is one vehicle which I hope will never be sold in the United States. Why? Because it is an automatic, that is why.

  2. I am shocked!

    Okay, not really.

  3. @Annatar: Volvo is almost certain not to sell diesels in the U.S., period. So your wish is being granted.

  4. The ironic thing is, someone in my family actually has a V60 D5 diesel wagon, just like the one above, with a five-speed manual transmission, all stock.

    It is a rocket on wheels. I had so much fun just riding in it.

    What a shame Volvo ruined this car.

  5. Volvo hasn't "ruined" it, they've designed it according to what the vast majority of owners would want.

    However much you hate automatic transmissions, you can consider yourself in a small, vocal minority of owners who would want a large, heavy, diesel, hybrid wagon with an archaic stick between the front seats.

  6. This car has been designed for the European market. In Europe, manual transmissions are in the vast majority of cars, and majority of Europeans refuse to drive automatics. With that in mind, how can you possibly claim that "vast majority of owners would want" an automatic car?

    Mr. Voelcker wrote that Volvo has no plans to release this car in the United States, so what where they thinking when they made it into an automatic? Who in Europe will accept it as such?

  7. Also, bear in mind that diesel market is still mostly exploratory in the United States, and in the domain of people like myself. If you peruse discussions on the Internet and various forums, it will become apparent that enthusiasts do not want an automatic-anything.

    Maybe someday, people will want an automatic diesel, but that day is not today, nor is it likely to come any time soon.

  8. You clearly have little understanding of the European market then Annatar - This is a car costing, in the UK, upwards of $60,000. I've just a hunch, but I suspect the number of manual transmission cars bought every year in that price bracket is less than 1% of the market.

    Manyals are still dominant in Europe, yes - but so are smaller, cheaper cars. They're only the dominant transmission in minicars, subcompacts, compacts and the like. NOT in hybrids or luxury vehicles - of which the Volvo is both.

    From personal experience of having driven diesels, they're much more pleasant as autos anyway - auto transmissions are better suited to the narrow torque bands of most diesels, saving the constant gearchanging needed in a diesel manual.

  9. I like the idea. However, the price tag is a bit high...

  10. It is, but worth mentioning that if sold in the U.S, its price would likely be numerically closer to its figure in £, than its converted price. That's usually the case!

    So think somewhere in the region of $45,000 if Volvo changes its mind.

  11. @that price, there should be a decent market for it. I am sure all the people who didn't buy Volt b/c of the lack of space would look serious at this Volvo for that price...

  12. It is absurd not to make this car available in the U.S. This company and others ought to realize once and for all that what is appropriate in Europe can be equally valid here.

  13. "You clearly have little understanding of the European market then Annatar - This is a car costing, in the UK, upwards of $60,000. I've just a hunch, but I suspect the number of manual transmission cars bought every year in that price bracket is less than 1% of the market."

    Hah I have lived and worked in Europe for many years. I think I know exactly what I am writing about, thank you very much!

    The luxury segment you are referring to amounts to about %1 of the market. If you are implying that Volvo is suddenly a luxury brand in Europe, than you have succumbed to some serious marketing.

    I have noticed that most of your uptakes on Europe diverge from what I have experienced first hand while living there, and they diverge a lot.

  14. Annatar, this will be the last I say on this matter.

    Whether you think Volvo being a luxury brand is marketing spin or not, this is a $60,000 car in Europe. Show me the buyer of a $60,000 luxury hybrid (which is undoubtedly what this Volvo is, despite your assertions to the contrary) who wants a manual transmission for some inexplicable reason, and I will show you a buyer who cannot afford that car and is simply expressing an irrelevant opinion.

  15. What in the world are you writing about!?!

    I lived in a country where pretty much every expensive car had a manual transmission! Next to my car was a $60,000 USD Mercedes C250D, with a manual transmission, and apart from ultra luxury brands like Maserati and Ferrari, very, very few expensive cars could ever be seen with an automatic transmission! My colleagues drove expensive $60,000 USD BMW's, all of them except for one were manuals.

    I really do not know where you get your ideas from, but needless to say, I disagree with them; reality is not the way you perceive it, or want it to be (luckily).

  16. Here's Robert Llewellyn's Fully Charged test drive of the prototype in August 2011. Lots of additional information.

  17. There are several vehicles bein sold in the US that are as efficient as this on average, but certainly not any with that kind of performance. There is a huge disparity between European and American testing standards, due to the Imperial gallon being smaller and the EU testing being "hypermilish". They still should bring it to US with some sort of emissions scrubber. The performance alone makes it totally worth it.

    Chevy Volt: 98
    Toyota Prius PHEV: 95
    Ford Fusion PHEV: 100
    Honda Accord PHEV: 115

    Take these numbers with large amounts of salt, especially the Volt's as most owners are getting well over 100 mpg combined with some getting far more. Also, the Honda's rating is unrealistically high because it only gets 10-15 miles per charge.

  18. 38MPG? Well diesel has about 14% more energy than gas. So if a diesel engine gets 14% better MPG than an equivalent gas car, it isn't any more efficient, it just has more energy to work with.
    So what would the MPG of a gas plug-in hybrid / range extended EV have to be in order to match the efficieny of this Volvo V60 diesel plug in hybrid?

    The Chevy Volt gets high 30s MPG if you never plug it in. So it is clearly more efficient than this diesel hybrid unless the 38MPG understating the real world MPG if you never plug it in.

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