Volvos have always been a smart vehicle choice for those that are concerned with safety. The historically box-shaped vehicles are built like tanks and are known for racking up astronomically high mileage on the odometer. Now Volvo, along with everyone else, is looking to add a plug-in hybrid to its lineup.
The ReCharge Concept pictured is a redesigned Volvo C30 with individual electric wheel motors and batteries that can be charged via a regular electrical outlet. When fully charged it can be driven approximately 62 miles on battery power alone before the car’s four-cylinder 1.6 Flexifuel engine is needed to power the car and recharge the battery. Performance figures for the concept car is 0-62mph in 9 seconds and a top speed of 100mph.
According to Volvo brass, “This plug-in hybrid car, when used as intended, should have about 66 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with the best hybrid cars available on the market today. Emissions may be even lower if most of the electricity comes from CO2-friendly sources such as biogas, hydropower and nuclear power. A person driving less than 60 miles per day will rarely need to visit a filling station.”
Operating costs are estimated to be about 80 percent lower compared to a similar gas-powered car when using battery power alone and those that have even longer daily drive would benefit. In a 93 mile commute a driver could expect to get 124 mpg if they start with a fully charged car. The only extra cost will be the electricity used during charging. The Volvo ReCharge Concept can be charged at any regular electric plug socket at convenient locations such as at home or work and a full recharge will take three hours. However, even a quick one hour charge provides enough power to cover just over 30 miles. During operation the combustion engine starts up automatically when 70 percent of the battery power has been used. The driver also has the option of controlling the four-cylinder Flexifuel engine manually via a button in the control panel.
The Volvo ReCharge Concept combines a number of the latest technological innovations into a so-called “series hybrid” where there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels. With an individual electric motor at each wheel, weight distribution as well as mechanical efficiency and traction are maximised and the friction in mechanical gears is eliminated. Since the car does not have the transmission found in ordinary cars, there is no need for a gear lever. Much like other hybrids currently produced, the energy that is generated during braking is transmitted to the battery pack. When the system is ultimately developed, traditional wheel brakes will be completely replaced by electrical brakes with minimal energy wasted through friction.
It looks like in addition to the Volt and other plug-ins that are being rolled out over the next couple years, Volvo-lovers will have the opportunity to join the zero-emissions club.