Automobile manufacturer Volvo is joining forces with Sweden-based Vattenfall, one of the world’s leading energy companies, to make a new plug-in hybrid diesel/electric vehicle.
Volvo says the new hybrid that will come out of the partnership is to hit the market in 2012.
It was over two years ago that the two companies started working together to explore the technology that makes plug-in vehicles a reality.
In the new plug-in hybrid diesel/electric vehicle, Volvo and Vattenfall plan to use an electric motor that gets power from a lithium-ion battery pack. Depleted batteries would charge in about 5 hours – most probably from a 220-volt wall socket.
For the hybrid vehicle – that will use regenerative brakes to help keep the batteries charged – an extensive range is not expected; it has been specifically designed for what is called “routine distances.”
According to Stephen Odell, the chief of Volvo, “most car journeys are short trips, for instance, to and from work. We will be able to offer a product that fulfills this transportation need.”
To cover longer distances, Odell says, the car will also be equipped with one of Volvo’s fuel-efficient diesel engines.
However, any hybrid car will have at least an all-electric range of 50 km per charge, and this number might have to be raised if the joint project “is to be taken seriously,” says Stephen Odell.
There is but one catch! Both Volvo and Vattenfall say that any vehicle coming out of their partnership would be costlier than a conventional car – the reasons for this being the high price of batteries and the cost of research and development. And that makes one but wonder how viable the new project is …