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

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

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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