Volvo Announces Major Commitment To Hybrids With Drive-E Powertrains

Volvo has received enormous approval for its V60 plug-in diesel hybrid (pictured) and to make an electrified stable of offerings possible, announced today an $11 billion global commitment including two new “Drive-E” forced-induction gas engines for the U.S.

All Drive-E engines are fully prepped to be combined into hybrid configurations.

Among global offerings, Volvo will also produce a common rail diesel along with a direct-injected gasoline version like the U.S. spec versions, and both the gas and diesel engines share the same architecture.

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Among the gas versions for the U.S., the T5 Drive-E engine will feature turbocharging to provide 240 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque. The T6 will combine turbocharging with supercharging to deliver 302 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet torque.

Volvo will continue to offer the U.S. its current lineup of all-wheel drive powertrains, along with Drive-E.

The company says U.S. customers can choose between the new engines and some current engines until it transitions solely to Drive-E.

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These powerplants are to replace eight engine architectures on three platforms. They undercut present designs by almost 100 pounds, while reducing emissions “considerably” and improving fuel economy from 13-26 percent.

“We have created smaller, more intelligent engines with power curves that give exciting drivability compared with engines with more cylinders, yet deliver the fuel economy of only four cylinders. In addition, by adding electrification such as plug-in hybrid technology, we will reach power figures in the V8 territory,” said Derek Crabb, vice president Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.

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Overall, the multi-year push toward Drive-E architecture will include engine development, Volvo’s future Scalable Product Architecture, and other infrastructure and facilities upgrades. Volvo says these are aimed directly at transforming its future toward increased competitiveness and technological independence.

“The launch of our new Drive-E powertrains is an important step in Volvo’s product investment plan that will result in a stronger, more competitive position in the marketplace,” said Volvo Cars of North America President and CEO John Maloney. “A great deal of research went into learning how our customers drive and these highly efficient, low-emission engines were designed to provide greater customer choice while retaining the performance attributes our customers expect.”

Electrified Future

The new Drive-E engines are prepared for future electrification with components such as the integrated starter generator, which can be connected easily. Their compact size means that the electric motor can be fitted in the front or rear of the vehicle, Volvo notes, and the battery pack will be located in the center of the car.

“A four-cylinder, transversely mounted engine is a way of building up for an electrified future,” said Crabb. “Hybrids are definitely going to be a dominant part of the top end of our range.”

Other tech features are as follows:

• Friction reduction: Friction-reduction measures have been employed throughout the engine, including ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump.

• Start-Stop and Brake Regeneration: All Drive-E engines feature start-stop and brake regeneration. The technology uses brake pressure measurement to trigger when to stop and start the engine. The start/stop system is programmed to shut down the engine immediately when the car reaches a standstill. An electric pump keeps oil pressure up in the automatic gearbox while the engine is stopped. The system also includes an improved starter engine.

• Turbo Only or Turbo and Supercharger: Using the supercharger to boost the low end torque gives the gasoline 302-horsepower T6 engine a big, naturally aspirated feel. The mechanically linked compressor starts to function immediately at low revs, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up.

• Eight-speed gearbox: To deliver the desired responsive, smooth and fuel-efficient drivability, the engines are teamed either with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox tuned for improved efficiency. “Think of it like having more gears on a bicycle — you get more chance to operate it efficiently depending on the road conditions. With our new gearbox you get a bigger ratio spread – in essence it gives you better chance of getting good fuel economy from the engine,” said Crabb.

Volvo says “Drive-E” is also its name for all innovations made to reduce the impact on the environment. Previously during the development of this architecture, it was called Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA).

The Drive-E moniker “encompasses everything from a sustainable, efficient and clean manufacturing process, along with the use of recyclable materials, to efficient and low-emission powertrains – without compromising performance,” says the company.