Volvo's Hybrid Car Campaign

Volvo loyalists have been wondering for some time now about the Swedish carmaker’s near-term plans for producing an eco-friendly offering within its lineup. The Ford subsidiary has shown several hybrid concept vehicles at various international auto shows, but there have been no formal announcements about taking any green ideas to market. Until now.

If Volvo delivers on its hybrid plans, in a few short years the company could have micro-hybrids, diesel-hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and clean diesel offerings.

Volvo’s green campaign will begin—according to company announcements—in 2010 when the company implements micro-hybrid stop-start technology in several of its smaller gas-powered models. This would include the C30 hatchback, the S40 sedan, and the V50 wagon. Larger vehicles would receive the new system in the following year. The stop-start system—designed to prevent unnecessary gas usage when the vehicle is at a standstill—is estimated to improve fuel efficiency by about five percent.

The C30, S40, and V50 will also be part of Volvo’s DRIVe initiative, which was on display at the 2008 Paris Auto Show last week. First for Europe, and then presumably for the US, diesel models will feature a host of eco-efficiency features, including increased aerodynamics, the use of lower rolling resistance tires, and higher gear ratios.

Volvo is also considering some common sense steps, such as the elimination of V8 powertrains. Offering around 15 to 17 miles per gallon depending on the vehicle, V8 engines are out of step with the energy-efficient direction of the automotive industry. In a recent press conference, Lex Kerssemakers, senior VP of Volvo product strategy, acknowledged that these large engines are no longer practical, and may be replaced with turbocharged six-cylinders which offer almost as much power while burning 25 percent less fuel.

And according to Automotive News, Volvo is now planning to combine modern diesel technology with a hybrid powertrain to be launched by 2012. The brand already has a history of diesel cars, most notably the Volvo 850 Turbo in the 1980s. The new system, which will be far cleaner and more efficient, will mate a five-cylinder diesel engine with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. Volvo’s diesel-hybrid technology is initially being targeted for the larger vehicles in the line-up, specifically, the S80 sedan and the XC90 utility.

Other companies, most notably Volkswagen and PSA Peugeot Citroen, have flirted with diesel-hybrid concepts, but high cost remains an impediment.

There is also talk of a plug-in hybrid version of the Volvo C30, which would allow an electric-only range of about 60 miles. This vehicle was previewed as the Recharge Concept at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show.

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  • aCAGAL

    I was hoping for an extended range plug in from Volvo. I’ll never buy diesel, and I need 60 miles + on those days I drive. However, my 11 year old Volvo gets better mpg than the current models: lower to the ground, turbo on a six. I can load it up with more drywall and building materials than a van or truck can handle. The dealer keeps calling, wanting me to trade in that oldie in….EXPHEV is what I’m looking for, if it is safe, easy to handle, has good turning radius, and is suitable for a load of tall folks, as well as babies and kinder.

  • Dom

    Bring the diesels!! They sound very interesting, to say the least. Anyone in the US that says they’ll never buy one probably has never driven one either. Probably a sensible move on the V8… but will your typical American be willing to pay for the (gulp) more expensive Premium gasoline to get better fuel efficiency?? Sounds like the same simple math problem most people can’t figure out when talking about diesels – they can’t see past the higher price to realize that the fuel economy exceeds the higher fuel price. Ford is going to face the same problem with their new turbo engines…

  • hybridman2

    Fords Euro version of it’s highly efficient diesel gets 65 MPG, but they won’t introduce it here in the US because they say people won’t buy diesel technology.

    I think if people saw the mileage- they’d buy diesel.

  • Neil

    Blah blah blah…Boring News!

    So Volvo is showing up mid-meal to the dinner table with promises to implement some basic fuel saving features over the coming years. I am not impressed. This marks the beginning of a steady stream of “stragglers” from here on out announcing intentions to make their vehicles more fuel efficient.

    I hope companies who already have advanced technologies on the market, i.e. the true leaders, mop the floor with these non-innovative companies. It’s been said before – anyone can follow, but it takes guts to lead. Go Tesla, Honda and Toyota! And GM…if the Volt is not vaporware…


  • Libor

    Diesel? Well it’s more complicated, as we Europeans found out recently. See, the diesel is a product dependent on what you call “unleaded”, because their production is connected pretty much as chicken breasts and chicken wings. If people start to buy wings because their cheaper (hypothetically, of course), then producers will have plenty of breasts and shortage of wings, so prices of wings will rise and prices of breasts will fall, so that price motivates customers to buy the less loved part of the chicken; it wouldn’t be economic to thrown the breasts to bin…
    So, the diesel. Don’t forget that all trucks and buses, many locomotives, a lot of machinery, etc. are already using diesel. In Europe, a popularity of small diesel cars was growing over the years, finally reaching it’s tip sometimes in the end of last year. The producers struggled to supply market with enough diesel but they had enough “unleaded”. So although diesel is generally easier (understand: *cheaper*) to make than unleaded, it’s price went up, crossed the unleaded and continued to rise and disappoint the diesel owners. See, the main reason why they bought the cars was the price of fuel and a bit lower mileage. Today, to run a diesel in Europe is as expensive as to run ordinary car and the diesel is much less ecological.
    To finish the point – if a lot more people drive diesels, than it will get a lot more expensive and won’t make economically any sense anyway :-(.

  • Jakob

    Listen guys.. we have been fooled by the car industry and we will continue to take that crap judging from your comments. How crazy is this we are driving in cars based on a 130 year old technology, even a T-ford gets better millage. and the first cars were electric cars.

    What happened to common sense folks. Don’t be fooled the technology is stored in secret warehouses until the public really really gets upset.

    Stop buying cars and maintain the one you have. Believe me a well build car can easily get 15 years. The more people realize this the lower the sales of cars and the more they realize that there is a need for improvement. Let the big 3 fall on there behinds so badly that the message gets out.


  • thomatt12

    The safest car in the world, now also thinking of going hybrid. That one’s really nice!

  • joy

    looking forward to see hybrid cars from volvo…let’s see if they could cope up with other hybrid cars in the market…

  • CAnderson

    The time to have gotten started with this should’ve been years ago for Volvo. I am also unimpressed that they were not more innovative and leagues ahead of other automakers, or at least in line with the Japanese makers. It’s more than a little late to come out acting like the hero, when you won’t even have anything to offer until 2012. Maybe they didn’t have much say in the matter being that they were bought by Ford several years back. I agree with Jakob, maintain the car you have and let the car makers scramble frantically to develop something much more economical. If they’ve got a good idea to work on I’m sure they could get the financing for the development of that technology.

  • Bruce Golden

    As a Volvo owner, I find Volvo’s constant green talk just that, talk. Their present line of cars and SUV’s available in the US get mediocre to poor gas mileage and they are way behind other companies in introducing hybrid vehicles to the market. Ford has an excellent hybrid system so what is the problem with using it in some of their vehicles now? Volvo, get with the program and stop dragging your feet and introduce some fuel efficient vehicles now!

  • Durable Brad

    Nice attempt to muddy the water, but the only raw materials necessary for the production of bio-diesel are methanol, lye, and either vegetable oil or animal fat. Toss it in an old washing machine for 48 hours and you get fuel… and a generous supply of fresh soap.

    You Europeans never were too good at the process of developing a sense of independent self-reliance, and establishing successful isolation from structured authoritarian control. Leave it to a Yank to explain the absolute simplicity of bio-diesel production in two paragraphs or less.

  • Jack-in-VA

    I own a 2002 V40 Wagon that is a 4 cyl, low pressure turbo that averages 26 mpg in mixed daily driving and feels like a V6. Why did Volvo abandon that powertrain? I gave that car to my son and purchased a 2010 Jetta TDI for myself. First tank = 35mpg in mixed daily driving. Wow. TDI is quick with the high torque powerband in the 0-70 mph range we commonly drive in. Fun with the DSG transmission. Go Diesel!!

  • chester

    The Volvo hybrids are beautiful. However I wish there prices were within range for us average joes.

    not convinced on the use of hybrids in northern climates thought

  • LAUNCH X-431

    Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try “delousing” the closet in your own room.

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