There aren’t many car makers in the world aiming for lots of zeroes, but Volvo is. It wants no one injured or killed in a Volvo by 2020, and it’s also aiming for zero emissions from its cars.
The former might well be possible, barring any idiots parking in rivers, but the latter could prove more tricky. Still, the Swedes are having a go, with the launch next year of their first plug-in hybrid in the V60.
The bare figures are impressive, if not quite full of noughts. Emissions drop to 49g/km, and the average fuel economy is a miserly 1.9L/100km. That’s around 52km on a single litre of diesel and in a car the size of the V60 estate, that is some going. Especially when you consider it’s got a D5 diesel engine under the bonnet, so the combined power figure from the diesel and electric power plants is 272bhp and 640Nm. As such, the V60 is good for 0-100kph in 6.9 seconds.
Because it’s a plug in hybrid, you haven’t got any range anxiety. There’s a normal diesel engine up front, then an electric motor and battery mounted under the boot floor. Welcome, then, to a four-wheel drive Volvo. Or rear-wheel drive when it’s running on electric only.
This electric only aspect of it is the most impressive. It can do nearly 100kph running on just the battery, and that will last close to 50km. In other words, beyond most people’s daily commutes. And when you drive it, you’re never left wanting more power. The electric motor has got plenty of juice, and the diesel won’t kick in unless you really thrash it.
There’s also a hybrid setting, which is when both the diesel and the electric run in an Eco setting, and there’s also a power mode, which is when you’ve got full access to all that 272bhp from both powerplants. It’s bloody quick.
It’s not perfect though. For starters, the D5 diesel engine is too rough. In a normal Volvo it sounds crude, but when you’ve been running on electric only and the D5 suddenly kicks in, the contrast couldn’t be greater. Volvo’s new four cylinder engines, not due until 2013, can’t come soon enough.
And there’s also the small matter of price. Volvo won’t give any clue as to how much it might cost when it goes on sale in November 2012, but educated guesses should put it north of $200,000, not to mention the punitive diesel tax on private passenger vehicles… and the small question of where to charge the thing if you live in a HDB flat like most people. It might not be the most sensible car here at the moment, but there’s obvious green snob appeal and if nothing else, the amout of zeroes Volvo has come up with from the engineering levelled at this certainly is impressive…