Volvo is introducing a series-produced plug-in diesel hybrid in 2012.
Fuel economy could be an incredible 148 mpg, with CO2 emissions less than 50g/km. The car’s range will be around 745 miles. Volvo says that it’s postponing its plans to produce a full-hybrid based on a diesel engine, and going straight to a plug-in hybrid.
Pure electric power from the battery will cover the daily transport needs of 75 percent of European drivers. For longer distances, a diesel hybrid engine automatically takes over when the battery energy levels start to run low.
Volvo says the advantages of its plug-in hybrid include:
• Fuel consumption, running costs and CO2 emissions are very low
• The car is a “normal” Volvo, with all its safety capabilities
• It’s recharged at home via a regular wall socket
• It offers high levels of performance
The electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes about one-fifth as much energy as a corresponding engine running on fossil fuel. Volvo’s plug-in hybrid cars will be propelled by an electric motor that receives its power from a lithium-ion battery, and additional electricity is generated every time the car brakes.
The battery is recharged at home via a regular wall socket. Electricity as a fuel is far cheaper than petrol or diesel, which results in low operating costs. The battery will take about five hours to recharge.
The range will be about 745 miles, similar to a conventional diesel car. It can be driven up to 31 miles on pure electric power and when running on the battery, emissions from the exhaust pipe will be non-existent. If the battery is recharged using electricity from renewable sources, the net emission of CO2 will be close to zero, even in a lifecycle perspective.
Volvo’s dealers will offer customers who buy a plug-in hybrid a special contract for the supply of renewable energy. This agreement has been created in cooperation with the company’s partner, Swedish electricity supplier Vattenfall.
Volvo’s diesel engines will be optimised to run on renewable synthetic diesel and will meet the tough forthcoming exhaust emission requirements.
A medium-sized wind-power station can produce renewable electricity to cover the annual consumption of 1000-2000 plug-in hybrids in normal use. Even a large number of plug-in hybrids on the roads would be able to be supplied within the framework of the electric grid’s existing capacity. If 15 percent of Europe’s cars consisted of plug-in hybrids, this would mean that total electricity requirements would only increase by between one and three percent.
Through simple household energy savings, for instance by switching off the PC and TV overnight and using low-energy bulbs, the total energy requirement would probably be able to be kept at current levels.
The purchase price of a plug-in hybrid is expected to be considerably higher than for a conventional diesel car as the batteries are still expensive. Fuel costs on electric power will be about one-third compared with driving on diesel, and this partially compensates for the higher purchase price, although not fully.