Earlier this week, Volvo introduced a new model that integrates a plug-in lithium battery and a diesel engine, which Volvo plans to make available by 2012. When compared to Volvo’s earlier plan to have a hybrid vehicle available in 2012, the new plug-in model represents a more aggressive move on Volvo’s behalf.
Notably, this move could position Volvo as the world’s first provider of a plug-in diesel model. Although the technical specifications are a work in progress, the company says that the new plug-in will emit less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. When compared to the average emissions rate of roughly 90 g/km found among most European subcompacts, Volvo’s 2012 plug-in is a big leap in automotive efficiency.
Other manufacturers have touted plans for upcoming hybrid vehicles. However, none have presented plans for a plug-in component to their diesel engine models. The usage of a lithium-ion battery will likely drive up the costs of Volvo’s plug-in model. Chances are that in order for this model to be a cost-effective option for consumers, a tax incentive for low-emissions vehicles will be required. With goals of offering a product that allows drivers to cover longer distances with a manageable recharge time (5 hours), Volvo believe the new model is a response to market needs.
In order to deliver the new technology, Volvo has partnered with Vattenfall, a Swedish electric utility company. The partnership has resulted in the development of an automotive battery that will provide drivers with the ability to run on battery power for up to 50 kilometers. The structure of the partnership is such that Volvo Car Corporation (a subsidiary of Ford) will manufacture the vehicles and Vattenfall will develop the charging systems that supply the cars with the necessary electricity. Touting at-home fill ups and reduced fuel costs, and reduced environmental impacts, Volvo believes that the new plug-in model is a purchase option that the market is eager for.
In addition to finalizing the technical specifications of the lithium-ion battery technology, Volvo is also finalizing the safety specifications of the vehicle in order to comply with current European safety regulations.
The company’s CEO, Stephan Odell has stated that, “I would go so far as to say that the plug-in electrical hybrid we will launch in 2012 will be a true dream car. With the innovative solution we will offer, the car owner will be able to drive a thoroughly enjoyable car packed with Volvo’s renowned high safety and genuine driving pleasure.”