Plug-in hybrid cars are being pointed out as the next step toward sustainable mobility and Volvo has already made a significant breakthrough with the Recharge
, a C30-based vehicle that uses one electric engine in each wheel. This sort of technical arrangement will very likely be the one most cars in the future will use, since it presents many advantages: it frees space for luggage and passengers, since the engine compartment is not used and it eliminates the need of a steering system (turns are made by rotation differences among the wheels). Volvo and Saab have also announced a cooperation agreement
, along with Vattenfall (Swedish electricity provider), ETC (Swedish batteries and fuel cells company) and the Swedish State, to develop plug-in hybrid vehicles. The news linking these two facts is that ten vehicles will be build to test the technology and there is one already on driving tests. Guess which one? The video will tell you, in case you have any doubts left.
The Recharge will be the base for building these ten cars, more in what relates to its technology than its appearance. Therefore, Saabâ€™s vehicles may even use a different model to evaluate the plug-in hybrid system, such as the still not released 9-1
, but we bet it will feature one electric engine in each wheel, each capable of 999 Nm of torque. Thatâ€™s correct, people: each. The total amount of torque available for these cars will be 3,996 Nm.
Power will depend on the batteries provided by ETC. Nowadays, they are able to deliver 136 cv, with peaks of 204 cv for a few seconds. That limits top speed to 160 km/h, more than enough for most roads all over the world, but few cars would be able to accelerate so fast.
If the car counted only on its batteries, it would be able to maintain this top speed for only 10 minutes or to have an autonomy of 100 km, but this is when the â€œhybridâ€� part of the car gets in action. When battery charge is low, a 1.6-litre bioflex combustion engine starts to generate electricity. With this engine, the car can maintain 160 km/h for as long as there is fuel in the tanks or can run for about 680 km, if you add the 100 km the batteries can provide.
Since there are no mechanical links between components, all parts can be easily changed, such as the engine, which can be much smaller. At the same time it is an advantage, it is also the main challenge Volvo and Saab will have to face. After all, proving â€œby wireâ€� systems safe, mainly brakes, may take a little more time than researchers would like to admit.
Volvo Car Corporation launches unique cooperation for the development of plug-in hybrid cars in Sweden
Together with electricity provider Vattenfall, Saab Automobile, ETC and the Swedish state, Volvo Car Corporation is launching a joint broad-based research venture to develop spearhead technology in the area of plug-in hybrid cars. Sweden will be the arena for the field tests.
"I see this project as a positive further development of sustainable personal transport. We have a unique opportunity to take the lead when it comes to innovations for advanced green-car technology", says Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.
The aim of the project, which is being carried out jointly by Volvo Car Corporation, Saab Automobile, Vattenfall and ETC, is to develop and demonstrate the next-generation hybrid cars. A fleet of 10 plug-in hybrids will be produced that can be recharged directly from the mains wall socket.
Volvo has long experience of cooperation with a variety of society's actors and with this project the company aims to participate in and shape decisions and initiatives that are taken both within and outside the car industry.
"We want to be involved in setting up the rules for the future and to help build up broad-based competence in Sweden in this vital area," says Fredrik Arp.
Over a five-year period, Volvo will invest just over 11 billion SEK in development aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Volvo already offers its customers one of the industry's widest ranges of Flexifuel engines. In parallel the company is continuing to enhance the efficiency of its petrol- and diesel-powered cars. 2008 will see the launch of car models that release less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
Volvo is also focusing intensively on hybrid technology. In the medium term the company will introduce hybrid variants where an electric motor supports the combustion engine. In the longer term, plug-in hybrids will be introduced. One example of this was presented in autumn 2007 with the Volvo C30 ReCharge Concept. Used in the most effective way, this concept car cuts emissions of carbon dioxide by about 65 percent compared with the hybrid cars available on the market today. And if the electricity comes from CO2-sustainable sources such as hydropower and windpower, this figure improves still further.
"Within the next decade, electric vehicles are going to be needed if we are to meet forthcoming CO2 legislation," says Fredrik Arp.