Volvo has announced it will begin sales of its diesel-electric hybrid plug-in V60 model for the European market next year.
Last year I drove the electric version of the Volvo C30, which showed an unexpectedly advanced level of power train development from the Swedish automaker. Production for that vehicle has not been announced yet, but the electric drive technology is being applied to a new hybrid version of the V60 wagon launching next year.
Volvo did not release full specifications for the hybrid V60, but revealed some intriguing details. First of all, the hybrid system will be added to a diesel engine V60. The car will be able to drive a little over 30 miles in pure electric mode, and have an overall range of 745 miles. And Volvo says fuel economy will be 1.9 liters per 100 kilometers, which comes out to 124 mpg.
CO2 emissions are of major concern in Europe, and Volvo says the V60 hybrid will only produce 49 grams per kilometer. That is exceptionally low, as even Volvo's ultraeconomical V60 Drive model produces 120 grams per kilometer.
Volvo offers its diesel V60 with a few different engine options, such as 2-liter and 2.5-liter five-cylinder versions. But the plug-in hybrid could be based on the already economical V60 Drive model, as it uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The electric drive system could add boost to this engine when operating in hybrid mode.
Although the electric C30 I drove used a lithium ion battery pack from U.S. company Ener1, the V60 plug-in hybrid's battery pack was developed by Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.
Volvo plainly states that the V60 plug-in hybrid will cost more than the standard model, but notes that drivers will save two-thirds of the fueling costs.
Now for the bad news: don't expect to pick one of these cars up in the U.S. next year. Not only does Volvo not sell its diesel models here, but it also discontinued its station wagons, the V models, in the U.S.