Technician Erik Fjeelheim maneuvers the 140 kg, lithium-ion battery pack into th

Volvo boosting production of V60 plug-in diesel hybrids for 2014

The remarkable new Volvo V60 plug-in diesel hybrid was only introduced two months ago at the Paris Auto Show and has already sold out the 2013 model year’s 1,000 units before they even hit the showrooms and is rapidly taking orders for the 2014 models.

Consequently, the Swedish automaker is boosting production of the world’s first plug-in diesel hybrid (PDH) to somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 units for 2014. This is possible simply because production of the vehicle has been integrated into the same assembly lines as the rest of the brands offerings at the plant in Gothenburg.

That’s no small feat, as the new PDH, unlike other Volvos, includes two complete powertrains and a lithium ion battery that allows up to 28 no-emission miles on pure electric power.

“We are first in the industry to integrate a plug-in hybrid in an established production flow together with other car models,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Corporation. “The integration in the standard production flow gives the plug-in hybrid buyer the possibility to choose in principle all options available for the standard V60.”

The firm has accomplished this fabrication compatibility largely by conforming the line to the parts needed for the V60 PDH, modifying and rebuilding the assembly line to allow for the extra parts. These changes make possible the addition of over 300 more parts used by the PDH compared to a non-hybrid V60.

For example, the electric motor and corresponding drive shafts are fitted at the same station as the diesel drive on other four-wheel drive models.

The cooling system and the high voltage cables are combined on the Pallet, used to assemble the drive train and chassis.

The battery pack has to be inserted through the rear liftgate, through which it barely fits, and then rotated 90 degrees with only 20 millimeters to spare. This operation alone requires a full minute of careful maneuvering, in an automotive ballet of assembly.

This operation is shown in the photo above as Technician Erik Fjeelheim maneuvers the 140 kg, lithium-ion battery pack into the load compartment.

“The 11.2 kWh lithium-type battery is the single most complex system in the car. The precision maneuver to get it in place is an excellent example of the state-of-the-art assembly process,” says Peter Mertens.

Production and design of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid resulted from symbiotic cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish power company Vattenfall, who jointly financed the vehicle’s development.

“The V60 Plug-in Hybrid is a unique car, a historic step not only for Volvo Car Corporation but for the entire car industry. The first year’s 1,000-car batch was sold out even before the car reached the showrooms and the order books for next year’s cars are already filling up,” concludes Peter Mertens.

The day of the plug-in diesel hybrid has dawned and Volvo gets the credit for a great leap forward in automotive fabrication.

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