Volvo plug-in hybrid and improved eco-car line up Diesel-electric hybrid will go on sale in 2012

02 June 2009

Volvo DRIVe logo

Hybrid is due in 2012, but until then, Volvo's DRIVe models offer impressive fuel economy

Volvo's hybrid programme is a joint project between Volvo and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall. The car manufacturer’s role will be to build the car, while Vattenfall will provide the battery and charging technology.

As a ‘plug-in’ hybrid, the new Volvo will be able to draw electricity from any standard power outlet. This is different to the current crop of hybrid vehicles, which rely on their built-in petrol engines to provide the electricity to charge batteries.

Volvo hopes its scheme will prove more environmentally beneficial, as it moves CO2 emissions away from the individual car and back to the overall energy grid. Vattenhall will be offering Swedish customers the opportunity to use an electricity supply that comes from entirely carbon neutral sources, such as wind and water power.

When running on electricity alone, the Volvo plug-in hybrids will emit virtually no harmful gases. And by using diesel instead of petrol, Volvo promises to deliver a significant advance in efficiency over existing hybrid rivals.

Under 50g/km CO2

In fact, the Swedish car maker is claiming its plug-in cars will be able to reduce CO2 levels to less than 50g/km. This is a truly astonishing figure. The Smart ForTwo CDI turbodiesel and latest generation Toyota Prius hybrid are by far the most CO2 efficient current production cars at 88g/km and 89g/km, respectively. Sub-50g/km CO2 is a massive jump.

Volvo’s most efficient contemporaries are the C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe models. Just updated with stop-start technology, all three cars now emit 104g/km CO2 and officially return 72.4mpg.

‘DRIVe Towards Zero’

Volvo XC60

XC60 compact 4x4 is now available with front-wheel drive only

Volvo is not yet saying which of its current line-up – if any – the new plug-in hybrids will be based on. But later this year will see the debut of three V70-based plug-in hybrid development vehicles. These will allow Volvo and Vattenfell to fine-tune the plug-in hybrid experience to their customers’ needs.

The plug-in hybrid programme is part of a larger emissions reduction strategy that Volvo calls ‘DRIVe Towards Zero’.

Stephen Odell, President and CEO of Volvo Cars, said: "There is no doubt that the environmental issue is at the very top of Volvo Cars' product development agenda right now.

"Carbon dioxide emissions from our cars will be drastically reduced by the plan we are now implementing and our aggressive electrification strategy will put us in a leading position when it comes to environmentally optimised passenger transport."

2010 Volvo range updates

In other Volvo news, the Swedish company is the latest car manufacturer to announce its ‘2010’ model range updates – even though we are just half-way through 2009.

Volvo S80

A frugal DRIVe version of Volvo's executive S80 saloon is due for 2010

These cover everything from the compact C30 hatchback to the XC90 SUV and recently revised executive saloon.

Most relevant to the current economic and eco-centric marketplace are improvements to the C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe models. Chief among the changes here is the introduction of stop-start technology, reducing emissions to just 104g/km and increasing fuel economy to 72.4mpg. Prices start at £15,745 for the C30.

The crossover 4x4 is now available with front-wheel drive only. Together with a 2.4D turbodiesel engine, this equates to CO2 emissions of 159g/km and 47.1mpg – enough to earn it a DRIVe eco-badge from Volvo. It's priced from £24,995.

The S80 has recently undergone a complete refresh, including new looks inside and out, and new engines. Highlights include a frugal DRIVe model, and completely new D5 and 2.4D turbodiesels, boosting power and efficiency. The S80 starts at £21,745.

Those two new diesel engines also join the V70, XC70 and XC60 ranges, while the 2.5T turbo petrol in the V70 and S80 has also been improved.

There are also subtle visual changes for the V70 and XC70 – prices from £22,745 and £27,995 – and a revised 2.0D turbodiesel engine for the C70 – from £24,995.

Meanwhile the XC90 SUV gets an uprated chassis for improved driving performance. It’s entry-level price remains static at £29,995, while the range-topping Executive trim now starts at £42,985 – a £4,000 reduction.

All 2010 Volvos are available to order now.


Which? Car on Twitter

Follow Which? Car on Twitter

The Which? Car team is on Twitter, to offer you help and advice as and when you need it.

We're monitoring our Twitter account every day, so if you have an account, please send us you thoughts and questions to @whichcar.

Don't worry if you haven't got a Twitter account - you can still stay in the loop by regularly checking