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Volvo Unveils Plug-in Diesel Hybrid Version of V60

Volvo has unveiled a plug-in diesel hybrid version of its V60 that goes on sale in 2012.

Volvo is saying the V60 is the first plug-in diesel hybrid in the world and it might technically be correct because it appears to be the first being brought to market. Last week, Range Rover announced that it is bringing the Electric Range e to the Geneva Motor Show but that is only a demonstration vehicle at this point. It is likely to come to market in the near future but for now Volvo has beat it to the punch.

The Swedish automaker is saying its plug-in diesel hybrid V60 is a perfect automotive troika. It has an electric motor that will drive the four-door sedan up to 30 miles (50 km), a high-efficiency hybrid with carbon dioxide emissions averaging just 49 g/km, or a muscle car with almost 300 horsepower and 440 lb. ft. of torque.

The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-liter D5 turbodiesel, which produces 215 horsepower and maximum torque of about 300 lb. ft. The rear axle features ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70 horsepower, which receives its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car features a six-speed automatic transmission.

"The second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who wants a superbly carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure," says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. "The technology is still undergoing development and testing. However, the car already points very clearly to what our customers can expect when the plug-in hybrid enters showrooms next year."

In addition to its three driving modes, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid features a number of other possibilities and benefits:

  • The driver can choose to save battery capacity in order to be sure of driving on clean electricity later, for instance after entering the city. In order to maintain a sufficient battery charge level, the car is powered by its diesel engine.
  • Pushing the AWD button in the center stack activates electric four-wheel drive. Instead of the mechanical power transmission of the conventional AWD system, the central control unit manages torque distribution to the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically powered rear axle.
  • Via the car setup menu, the driver can key in the planned route's distance (short, medium or long). The control system calculates the balance between diesel and electric power to obtain the lowest possible CO2 emissions for the given distance.

Here are some additional details, courtesy of Volvo:

  • The V60 Plug-in Hybrid features a special white paint supplied by Dupont - and the interior also has several unique details and colors compared with a standard V60, such as leather upholstery from Elmo (no, not that Elmo).
  • On the outside the car has several additional features that emphasize its CO2-lean profile, such as lightweight wheels with exceptionally low air drag and Pirelli tires designed for low rolling resistance.
  • The instrument panel in the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid has been modified to give the driver a full range of important information about diesel and electricity consumption, battery charge level, remaining range and so on.
  • It will also be possible to communicate with the car via a mobile application. This gives the owner access to a number of smart features, such as a reminder to plug in the charging cable if this hasn't been done at a certain, pre-set time.

Now for the bad news. It appears this V60 is only going to be available in Europe. That kind of makes sense because most Americans are scared at the thought of driving a diesel. Add hybrid before diesel and the even more foreign "plug-in" and most Americans are going to run screaming for the hills (in gas driven pickups, of course).

So, why should Americans not run for the hills when we hear the phrase plug-in diesel hybrid? Because this is the one vehicle that is probably going to best suit the typical American's driving habits. You combine pure electric power for short drives (that most of us do daily to work) and combine it with the most fuel-efficient engine, which would be diesel. This creates a vehicle with fantastic range when you need it with a lot of oomph for acceleration thanks to the instant torque of the electric engine applying power to the wheels.

Maybe it's time to start a Facebook page. It got Betty White on Saturday Night Live. Americans should petition to get the Volvo V60 plug-in diesel hybrid to our shores as soon as possible.