Volvo Car Corporation will take the wraps off a highly innovative Plug-in Hybrid Concept at next week’s North American Motor Show, in Detroit.
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The specially designed XC60 mid-size SUV is essentially three cars in one. With a simple touch of a button, the driver can select one of several different driving modes that will enable the car to drive on pure electric power, as an ultra fuel-efficient hybrid, or a high-performance vehicle.

"The technology in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is as ingenious as it is unique," says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. "You can make really green progress on the road without compromising on any of the luxury car's renowned properties. No other manufacturer has succeeded in delivering fuel economy and electrical range on this level in a capable, spacious performance car with 350 horsepower on tap."

"This world-class petrol plug-in hybrid technology, featuring a state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine from our upcoming Volvo Environmental Architecture engine family, will reach our American showrooms in a couple of years. However, it is too early to say which model will be the first to feature this solution," Jacoby says.

The three driving modes are: Pure, Hybrid and Power. By selecting Pure mode, the car will run solely by electric motor, whenever possible. The range is said to be just 45 kilometres in this zero emissions driving mode.

Hybrid mode is the vehicle’s default mode, so whenever the car is started, hybrid power is automatically selected. That’s a combination of petrol and electric power, and the numbers are mind-blowing. Try 53 g/km and a staggering 2.3L/100km (100 mpg), which translates into a range of 960 kilometres (600 miles).

Equally as exciting is the high-performance ‘Power’ mode. Utilising a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine from the next generation of Volvo VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) powertrains, power and torque outputs will be 280 horsepower (208 kW) and 380 Nm respectively. The instant torque from the electric motor assists performance, so that the 0-100km/h sprint takes just 6.1 seconds.

Power is to the front wheels via an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Volvo Car Corporation Senior Vice President Research & Development, Peter Mertens, says “In the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept we demonstrate that our forthcoming four-cylinder engines offer the same high performance as today’s sixes. At the same time, their fuel consumption will be lower than in our current four-cylinder engines.”

The Concept Car actually carries the ‘T8’ badge, and as such, develops 261 kW of power (350 hp) from the combined petrol and electric power sources.

Mertens says, “It’s time to stop counting cylinders. Four-cylinder engines are the most effective way to quickly reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption without compromising customer expectations when it comes to driving pleasure and performance.”

The VEA modular engines will be a mix of petrol and diesel, with the petrol units gaining direct injection, minimised internal losses and balanced shafts. Volvo’s new engine architecture will offer both a range of turbocharging options as well as ultra fuel-efficient variants, and in any number of body styles.

Based on 500cc per cylinder, the modular format offers any number of options such as three-cylinders or two, but with similar performance to the current range of engines. Weight is reduced in most of the engine components, which means better fuel-efficiency and less CO2 being expelled.

The electric motor in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept power’s the rear axle with power from a 12-kW/h Lithium ion battery under the boot floor.

Charging is easy too. Just plug into a standard 220V power source, and in 3 hours, the car will be fully charged.

This XC60 also uses the Volvo Sensus infotainment system that can select the fastest route to your destination depending your priority inputs, such as, fastest route or low energy consumption. The system will also monitor charging station locations in respect to the car’s location along with quick charge facilities.

Drivers will also be able to connect with the car via a mobile phone application that can access a range of relevant data such as battery charge level and the capacity of the upcoming charge station.

The all-wheel drive system is electric, and is activated by pressing the AWD button on the console, which engages the petrol driven front wheels and the electric driven rear axle.

It’s an ingenious system and a unique vehicle, which CarAdvice will provide more information on from Detroit next week.