Volvo might have already started production on its first plug-in hybrid wagon -- the 2012 V60 Diesel Plug-in Hybrid -- but as we’ve told you before, the Swedish automaker doesn’t think the U.S. is ready for a diesel plug-in hybrid yet.
But at next week’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Volvo will unveil the XC60 Crossover Plug-in Hybrid concept car: a vehicle built to illustrate Volvo’s plans to bring a plug-in hybrid car to the U.S.
A few weeks ago, we were given an exclusive presentation about the XC60 when we visited Volvo’s Gothenburg headquarters. Now we can tell you more about this exciting plug-in concept, designed with the U.S. in mind.
Same Technology, With One Difference
Just like the 2012 Volvo V60 Diesel Plug-in Hybrid, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid concept is a through-the-road hybrid, where the front wheels are driven by a conventional gasoline engine and small electric motor, while the rear wheels are solely driven by an electric motor.
In fact, the XC60 shares almost every part of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid’s drivetrain, from its 12 kilowatt-hour (8 kilowatt-hour used) lithium-ion battery pack and 50 kilowatt peak rear-wheel drive motor. But instead of a 2.4 liter Diesel engine, the XC60 plug-in concept is the first Volvo car to make use of its new range of Turbocharged, four cylinder VEA engines. Smaller and lighter than previous generation engines, the 2.0 liter gasoline engine will produce 280 horsepower and around 280 pound-feet of torque.
The extra horsepower over the D5 diesel engine found in the 2012 Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid means the XC60 plug-in concept is a little faster, taking just 5.8 seconds to reach 60 mph. Where permitted, it will go on to a top speed of 130 mph.
Yes, It Tows Too
Volvo executives are keen to point out that the XC60 concept doesn’t loose any of the capabilities of its gasoline sibling because it uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. In fact, it outperforms a traditional gasoline-engined XC60.
That even includes towing, with the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid just as happy to tow 3,300 pounds as the current 2012 XC60 gasoline lineup. In fact, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid benefits from the best torque figures of any XC60 yet. With 427 pound feet of combined electric and gasoline grunt, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid is the perfect towing green machine.
New York to Detroit On A Single Tank
Volvo claims the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept can travel up to 600 miles on a tank of gasoline and a fully-charged battery. That’s on a useable 8 kilowatt-hours of electricity and a 14 gallon tank of gasoline.
That equates to a hybrid fuel economy of around 50 mpg.
When used in all-electric mode, Volvo claims the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept can travel up to 35 miles on a single charge, resulting in a fuel economy equivalence of 105 MPGe.
Power, Hybrid, Pure
Like the V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept features the same tri-mode power selection, allowing the driver to chose which power source to use at any one time.
In Pure mode, the car operates as an electric-only vehicle, capable of reaching highway speeds without powering up the gasoline engine. Primarily driven via the rear wheel drive electric motor, a small, 7 kilowatt motor married to the output side of the car’s dual clutch, 8-speed automatic transmission provides traction to the front wheels when needed for electric-only all-wheel drive.
Switch to Hybrid mode, and the car automatically chooses whichever system is best at any given point, using a blend of both gasoline and electric power to achieve the best possible mixed-mode fuel economy.
Switch to Power, and both electric and gasoline systems operate in tandem at all times to provide the highest possible power and torque.
Just A Concept
Volvo is keen to point out that its latest plug-in hybrid concept doesn’t necessarily mean it intends to produce a large-scale production vehicle run of XC60 Plug-in Hybrids.
Instead, Volvo executives have said that the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid will be used as a test vehicle to help it plan a future production gasoline plug-in hybrid for the U.S. and Chinese markets.
Then again, given the amount of enthusiasm we’ve seen surrounding the V60 Plug-in Hybrid, we think it’s only a matter of time -- perhaps even as early as 2013 -- before we see a production-ready plug-in hybrid from Volvo enter the U.S. market.
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Volvo provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person news report.