Volvo will enter the 11th Michelin Challenge Bibendum (May 18-22) in Berlin with no less than three cars, including the first official road test of their advanced V60 Plug-in Hybrid.

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The Volvo entrants in what is the world’s toughest sustainability rally are the C30 Electric and the V50 DRIVe.

It’s not all about the Green experience though; motoring pleasure is an equally important category in the challenge.

“In order to get the true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer the opportunity to drive with low carbon dioxide emissions without taking away the adrenalin rush that promotes genuine driving pleasure,”

says Peter Mertens, Volvo’s Senior Vice President Research and Development.

He also goes on to say,

“Since the Michelin Challenge Bebendum drives include acceleration and handling tests as well as energy efficient driving, we expect our cars will do very well. All of them are just as well equipped, comfortable, sporty and safe as all Volvo models.”

He’s absolutely right; Volvo’s V60 Plug-in Hybrid is an environmental Tour de force. In ‘Pure’ electric mode it can run for up to 51.4 kilometres. If the driver chooses the default Hybrid mode, the diesel/electric combination provides the perfect balance between performance and low emissions. Try 49g/km or the equivalent diesel consumption of 150 mpg (1.88L/100km). On that basis, this V60 has an astonishing range of 1200 kilometres on a full tank and charge. The third drive mode is ‘Power’, which provides maximum performance, and the numbers are indeed impressive as far as output goes.

Combined power output from the diesel and electric propulsion systems is 215 + 70 hp (160 + 52 kW) and 440 + 200 Nm of torque.

It’s a front-wheel drive set up powered by Volvo’s five-cylinder 2.4-litre turbodiesel, which develops 160 kW/440 Nm. The 52 kW electric motor that power’s the rear axle is itself powered by a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The C30 Electric is just as exciting with a practical driving range of up to 93 kilometres per charge, and almost a zero emissions count.

As a pure electric car it is powered by an 83 kW electric motor developing 220 Nm of torque. A full charge of the 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack will take around 10 hours via a regular 230 volt power socket or 7 hours with a 16-ampere charge. As far as performance goes, the C30 Electric will accelerate from 0-70km/h in 6.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 130km/h.

The final Volvo entry is the V50 DRIVe. It's powered by a high-tech 1.6-litre turbodiesel with technology that includes a start/stop function, which helps reduce CO2 emissions to 99g/km. That translates to a combined fuel consumption of just 3.8L/100k.

Volvo says that the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be available in showrooms in 2012.