Volvo to Unveil Plug-In Hybrid Concept Vehicle at Detroit Auto Show

Volvo has chosen the North American International Auto Show to unveil its new XC60 gasoline plug-in electric hybrid crossover concept model. The automaker says that technology featured in the concept model will ultimately be incorporated in a number of models sold in China and the U.S.

Volvo plans to launch its first production diesel-electric plug-in hybrid in Europe later this year.

Volvo says the new XC60 has a 600 mile range and a combined fuel economy of over 50 mpg when in hybrid mode and can go 35 miles when run by the 70-hp electric motor alone. The vehicle also has a turbocharged four-cylinder, 280-hp gasoline engine to deliver a combined 350-hp that’s equivalent to an eight-cylinder conventional gasoline engine. The four-cylinder engine is part of the Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA) engine family.

The XC60’s four-cylinder engine features direct injection and balance shafts to improve vehicle comfort and is teamed to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

Volvo’s senior vice president of research and development Peter Mertens said, “In the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept we demonstrate that our forthcoming four-cylinder engines offer the same high performance as today’s sixes. At the same time, their fuel consumption will be lower than in current four-cylinder engines.” The new four-cylinder engines will also be more fuel efficient than the four-, five- and six-cylinder engines currently in use.

Mertens said, “It’s time to stop counting cylinders. Four-cylinder engines are the most effective way to quickly reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption without compromising customer expectations when it comes to driving pleasure and performance.”

Volvo plans to sell the new plug-in hybrid powertrain in the U.S. although no decision about which model will receive it. In a statement Volvo Car Corporation CEO Stefan Jacoby said, “It is too early to say which model will be the first to feature this solution.”  He did not provide a timeline for the U.S. launch.

The 70-hp electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and housed in the vehicles rear axle. The battery pack is located underneath the vehicle’s floor.

Charging times for the battery pack range from 3.5 hours when using a 220-volt outlet, to 7.5 hours if using a common110-volt outlet.

The 2012 North American International Auto Show will be held at the COBO Center in Detroit from January 9 through 22.

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