By Mark Kleis
Tuesday, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 4:33 am
Boasting a 31 mile range and the ability to sprint to 62 mph in less than 6.9 seconds, Volvo's new V60 Plug-In Hybrid diesel combines internal combustion engine performance with eco-friendly emissions to stand out among the latest crop of green cars.

Based on the standard Volvo V60 wagon, the Europe-bound V60 Plug-In Hybrid starts with a 2.4-liter D5 turbodiesel engine that puts out 215 horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque. From there, it adds an electric rear axle power unit that it calls ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive). Featuring a 70 horsepower electric motor, the system is good for 147 lb-ft of torque.

(More after video)

Combined, the turbodiesel and electric motors put out 285 horsepower and 467 lb-ft. of torque to all four wheels. A 12 kWh lithium ion battery pack charges the electric rear axle, while a six-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the ground.

The price for all of that torque (and of course everything else that comes along with it) will be ÂŁ47,000 in the United Kingdom (about $72,000, although straight conversions aren't a reliable means of figuring a price).

If and when a hybrid plug-in V60 comes to the U.S., however, expect a gas engine instead of a diesel one, which should drop the price a bit - as well as the torque and likely the total range of the vehicle.

"In order to get true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer them the opportunity to drive with low carbon dioxide emissions without taking away the adrenaline rush that promotes genuine driving pleasure," said Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby in a statement released to members of the media. "The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has all the traditional properties of a genuine sports wagon. What we've done is to spice it up with spearhead technology that allows the driver to choose: zero emissions, high-efficiency hybrid or full-on performance. Just select the mode that suits best."

Selecting the right mode
Jacoby means that the V60 Plug-In Hybrid will offer three distinct modes. Its most eco-friendly setting, Pure, uses the electric motor as much as possible, allowing for up 50 kilometers, or around 31 miles, of purely electric driving.

From there, the Hybrid mode uses both engines for a 746 mile overall range - or about 123 mpg over the course of an entire tank of fuel. Emissions are down to just 49 g/km of CO2, making the V60 Plug-In Hybrid among the greenest vehicles ever to hit the road

The enthusiasts Jacoby talks of will no doubt appreciate the car's Power mode, which utilizes the electric motor for "lightning quick" torque delivery to offer strong torque at low speeds.

Drivers can select just how much battery capacity they want to use at any given time, allowing them to conserve battery power for a stretch of road where EV performance might be more desirable. Through the car's built-in menus, drivers can specify the length of their journey, allowing the computer to pre-select how much battery it uses at any given time. In addition, an AWD button manually activates the vehicle's electric all-wheel-drive for additional traction.

Recharging time
Volvo says that the car can be charged in any of Europe's standard sockets - 230V/6A, 10A or 16A. In normal 6A charging, the lithium ion battery takes 7.5 hours to charge, while 16A outlets cut that time to 3.5 hours.

Like most plug-in vehicles, drivers can select when they want to charge the car in order to take advantage of off-peak energy costs. Volvo says that a mobile phone app will allow remote monitoring and charging.

Work on the V60 Plug-In Hybrid was completed thanks to a partnership between Volvo and Vattenfall, a Swedish energy supplier.

Silver is the new green
Among the new details confirmed today is the fact that the vehicle can only be ordered in a color known as Electric Silver.

As for supply, at least for the first year it will be quite limited with Volvo planning to produce just 1,000 models. In fact, Volvo says that it expects all examples of the car to be sold out for the first model year before it even begins production in the 46th week of 2012.

What about the U.S.?
While the car described and pictured above is impressive, it achieves its numbers with the help of a diesel engine, something not typically fawned over in the U.S. market. To address that, Volvo is reportedly working on another form of the V60 Plug-In Hybrid, albeit with a gas-burning engined swapped into the equation in the place of the diesel found in the Europe-bound model.

With the demise of its V70 model for 2011, Volvo is without a large wagon in the United States for the first time in many decades. But that's likely to change if the automaker's S60-based V60 arrives in the U.S. Officially, Volvo won't comment on whether the V60 has been slated for North America, but most signs from the relatively cryptic Chinese-owned Swedish brand point to "yes."ť

It is also expected that if the V60 Plug-In Hybrid does come to the U.S., it will be the only variation of the V60 offered.

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