Volvo V70 Plug-in Hybrid

When Volvo announced plans in June 2009 to produce a plug-in diesel hybrid, green car fans understandably got excited. Consider the possibilities of a safe, stylish and highly functional Volvo V70—but one with plug-in capacity, the ability to go 30 or so miles on electricity alone, and the rest of the power coming from an efficient diesel engine. Media reports said this would be “a reality” by 2012.

At the press conference, Volvo chief executive Stephen Odell said, “This is a significant leap compared to our earlier plans of offering a regular full-hybrid on the market by 2012.” Volvo engineers now are working feverishly to achieve that goal. What you may not know is that Volvo is hardly a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to plug-in hybrids. As far back as 1992, Volvo—with its ECC, Environmental Concept Car—had identified hybrids as the most promising future auto technology.

In 2007, the company announced that it would work with Swedish energy company Vattenfall and battery manufacturer ETC Battery and Fuel Cells Sweden AB on a $10 million demonstration project to put 10 plug-in hybrids on Swedish roads by 2009. At that time, Volvo also unveiled the Volvo ReCharge, a flex-fuel plug-in concept hybrid that uses electric motors housed in each wheel. The ReCharge promises 0 – 60 mph performance of nine seconds, a top speed of 100 mph, and 60 miles of all-electric driving on a three-hour charge.

From Prototypes to Real Cars for Sale

Volvo is aiming to make the transition from prototypes and evaluation—to real vehicles that consumers can buy in Europe in 2012. The company admits that a diesel vehicle with a lithium ion battery will be expensive—and that’s the main point of the company’s announcement this week. Working with Vattenfall, Volvo hopes to gain a better understanding of the driving and charging habits of plug-in drivers. In this way, it can refine the design of its plug-in hybrid and determine if the lithium ion battery—the most expensive component in a plug-in hybrid or electric car—can be made smaller. If so, then the vehicle can be made more efficient, cheaper and especially safer. After all, it’s a Volvo.

The current Volvo V70 plug-in hybrid demonstration car uses a 11.3 kWh battery pack, that at current prices could cost $10,000 or more. Volvo expects those prices to come down, especially if the battery is downsized to meet, but not exceed, consumer needs. The battery pack is combined with a front-wheel drive diesel engine with a rear-wheel drive electric motor. The high cost of combining hybrid and diesel technology so far has prevented auto companies from introducing diesel-powered hybrids—with or without a plug.

Promotional video explaining the joint venture between Volvo Cars and Vattenfall to produce plug-in hybrids for the European market by 2012.

The announcement about Volvo’s plug-in hybrid test program comes at a time when the company’s future is uncertain. Ford, its parent company, is shopping the brand and there are reportedly several interested buyers. The severing of ties with the US auto company allows Volvo to fully reclaim its Swedish identity—and fully adopt the Swedish government’s goal of becoming the world’s first oil-free economy by 2020.


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Volvo V70 Plug-in Hybrid
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  • Mimi Houndsworthy

    Please bring this diesel hybrid Volvo to California!

  • natan

    I hope this car can be sold in my country,,,: very hopeful …

  • HummingBird Feeder Recipe

    wow! Good news, now i can save money out of this hybrid car. I’m craving to have one.

  • Stephen

    I hope this revives Volvo’s fortunes. I had a Volvo years ago and it was a gas guzzler… but very solidly built and you really felt safe driving this.

    My only concern is reliability. Having a Honda Civic IMA, I have had no problems with it and the Japanese are consistently reliable.

  • Roland

    Bring this to Québec, we have enough electricity here to change all our car fleet!

  • Øystein Jakobsen

    This car looks to have the winning characteristics for me

    * Plug-in Hybrid
    * 4 wd drive
    * Station wagon
    * Safety and practicality over glamour

    Just curious on how the 4wd drive will work with only 2 electric motors, will the engine be constantly active when using 4wd?

    If I were to get a car, it would be something like this…

  • Randy Hansen

    Ready to order. Don’t make the battery pack smaller. Goal should be at least a 50 mile battery only range for local trips.

  • Rickly

    A gasoline engine, teamed with the battery, is preferred by many rather than diesel.

  • mabel

    Good. I am waiting to come to Canada

  • Cynthia

    YES PLEASE no doubt like yesterday. ALSO CAN YOU PUT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE TAG, we are already being financially RAPED in CALIFORNIA AND ACROSS THE US we need a financial break somewhere.
    More people that can buy these type of cars the more money they can spend in stimulating the economy. I’m just saying I agree with you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BRING THESE CARS TO CALIFORNIA

  • Smarter than You


  • KZ

    If it arrives as described in this article–30 mile electric-only range w/ diesel auxillary–this will be my next car! I still miss my sturdy old ’88 245.

  • Serg

    I do love all Volvo cars. Drove S-40 two years, XC-90 four years, still have S-60. Solid, safe cars. XC-90 saved my life three times. S-60 saved my wife’s life. Many Thanks to Volvo and long life! Get excited to know that Volvo can continue bring new, fresh ideas and innovate! Waiting for diesel Hybrid Plug-in. Please bring them to Canada.

  • Brian E Davidson

    Just keep your money and don’t buy anything from any car maker. Rather just drive what you have and in not having a payment, you will be able to get rid of your credit cards and the other payments that we all have on toys we really dont need. It’s time to start getting smart in the USA and demanding more….from ourselves!

    Be thankful for what you have and dont worry about being the first one to have the latest hybrid on the block. I, like you, look and want but am determined to refrain and build a nest-egg; the government isn’t looking out for us so its all up to us.

    Just my 2cents…..

    Oh and by the way, Im an American that has been forced to live and work overseas. Seeing the USA from the outside is really scary. So, do what you will but as for my family and I, I’m refusing to finance anything…it “cash on the barrel” (to quote LHOTP) or nothing at all for now on.