Volvo will launch a diesel-electric plug in hybrid in 2012, we tried the technology in a V70 prototype.
What is the Volvo PHEV?
An eco car that goes the distance – thanks to the combination of electric motor and diesel engine the PHEV won’t run out of juice on a long drive. Developed in a partnership with Swedish energy company Vattenfall, it'll rival the Toyota Prius plug-in and Vauxhall Ampera hybrid, but its back-up powerplant will be diesel rather than petrol.
Volvo hasn't confirmed the model in which the technology will be launched, but we've tried it in a V70-based prototype.
Why buy the Volvo PHEV?
It will allow you to be kind to the environment without the suffering that’s often associated with going green. The V70 PHEV prototype we drove covers around 31 miles on electric power alone – enough to cover many short commutes. And if the batteries start to run flat, its 205bhp five-cylinder diesel engine cuts in, letting you carry on for around another 714 miles before the fuel tank is empty.
Volvo claims this set-up will produce less than 50g/km C02 and give owners an impressive 148mpg. It also says the V70 PHEV consumes around a fifth of the energy of a comparable combustion engined machine.
The lithium-ion battery pack takes around five hours to recharge using a domestic 10-amp socket, or around two if it’s plugged into a 32-amp socket.
If Volvo decides to offer the hybrid powertrain on the luxurious V70 estate, you’ll also benefit from a whopping 815 litres of boot space, as well as seating for five. Whichever model it’s allied to you can also expect it to be safe and fairly reliable.
What are the engine options?
There’s only one choice at present, a 205bhp unit, similar to that fitted to the V70 D5. In the PHEV it’s capable of reaching 62mph in 8.9 seconds, compared with 8.7 seconds in the D5. In our drive it felt strong with immediate and constant power delivery via the automatic transmission.
The second part of the PHEV’s powertrain is its 100hp electric motor. This isn’t quite as punchy and takes around 15 seconds to complete the 0-62mph dash. That said, it still felt up to the task of hauling the big estate around city streets during our initial test.
How much will the Volvo PHEV cost?
No pricing structure for the PHEV has been announced yet.
When is it on sale?
Production is due to start in 2012.
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