Volvo's 2012 Diesel Plug-in Hybrid
By EV World
Volvo President and CEO Stephen Odell likens his firm's plan to introduce a plug-in hybrid in 2012 as a significant leap, allowing it to "skip a technological step" that originally envisioned the company introducing a conventional hybrid that year. He attributes Volvo's ability to by-pass this step to the company partnering with Vattenfall, one of Europe's largest energy companies that is wholly-owned by the government of Sweden.
Vattenfall President and CEO Lars Josefsson calls the partnership a "marriage made in heaven," seeing the advent of plug-in vehicles like the prototype V70 pictured above as providing both companies and Sweden to become early leaders in electric vehicle technologies.
While not revealing the size of its financial commitment to the partnership, which will work on energy storage systems and utility interface technologies, Josefsson believes Vattenfall will become a significant force in this new intersection of transportation and energy. While the Swedish energy company relies on fossil fuels for 46% of its electric power production, as well as 28% nuclear and 24% hydroelectric power, the company aims to be "climate neutral" by 2030 in the Nordic region and globally by 2050. The utility estimates that if 75% of the cars in Sweden are plug-in vehicles, it will only need to increase generating capacity by eight percent, while cutting Sweden's total greenhouse gas emissions by 8-9 million tons, 50% of the country's total annual emissions.
Vattenfall's Josefsson announced that the company plans to offer Volvo PHEV purchasers electric power contracts with energy provided by renewable sources, including wind and hydroelectric power.
The pair of prototype V70 plug-in hybrids displayed during the June 1, 2009 press conference in Stockholm will travel 50 km (31 mi) on its 11.3kW lithium ion battery pack, which drives a 75kW (100 hp) electric motor. Odell estimates that 75% of Volvo's customers drive less than 50 km a day. Once the battery pack reaches its designed minimal discharge point, the car's diesel engine provides additional driving range in a parallel architecture, making the car similar to the Ford hybrid drive system. Volvo choose the diesel engine because it plans to initially launch its future plug-in model in Europe, where diesels are -- at the moment -- the engine of choice. However, as the company pointed out, the system can configured to use spark ignition gasoline/ethanol engines.
In its current configuration, the car averages just 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, half that of conventional hybrids like the Prius, which is rated in Britain at 102g/km. Of course, adding an electric motor and battery system increases the weight of the V70 by 125kg (275 lbs.). However, Odell anticipates the weight of the system to come down as the company moves towards series production of the vehicle, which may or may not be the V70. The company has decided, internally, which model it will produce as a plug-in, but will not announce it at this time.
While Volvo realizes that the plug-in hybrid will be more expensive than non-hybrid models -- and it calls for financial incentives so that early adapters won't be penalized -- it believes consumers will appreciate the car's 50 km electric range, five-hour charging time at home (220-240 volt) and one-third operating costs.
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