A Volvo that can be fuelled with electricity from a standard wall socket will be a reality in 2012. Swedish energy company Vattenfall and Volvo Car Corporation are launching an industrial joint venture partnership to introduce plug-in hybrids to the market. The ground-breaking technology will considerably lower the environmental impact from traffic. In addition, owning a plug-in hybrid vehicle will be convenient since you can charge up at home and fuel costs are significantly lower.
In January 2007, the Volvo Car Corporation and Vattenfall launched a joint project with the aim of testing and developing plug-in technology. Now their cooperation is being taken to the next level.
"We are investing in an industrial joint venture to series-produce plug-in hybrid cars in Sweden in 2012, cars that can be powered by both electricity and diesel. This is an important business development for us and our partnership with Vattenfall allows us to take a giant step toward offering our customers cars with an even smaller environmental footprint," says Stephen Odell, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.
Vattenfall and Volvo Car Corporation believe that series production of plug-in hybrid cars and the development of infrastructure can generate new jobs and help Sweden maintain its position at the cutting edge of advanced pro-environmental technology.
The car can be charged at home
One of the major benefits of plug-in hybrids is that they can be charged from a regular household wall socket.
"We want to reinforce electricity's importance in society and its key role in solving climate issues. Through this cooperation we hope to be able to speed up the introduction of electric cars. Together we are developing the next-generation technology based on plug-in cars and various charging alternatives," says Lars G Josefsson, President and CEO of Vattenfall.
The development of the cars is being carried out and financed jointly by the two companies. Volvo Car Corporation will manufacture the cars and Vattenfall will develop charging systems and supply the cars with electricity.
Innovative environmental technology
Electricity is very well-suited as a power source for cars. An electric motor has a high efficiency rating and consumes roughly one-fifth the energy needed to power an engine that runs on fossil fuels. The purchase price of the plug-in hybrids will be higher than that of cars with conventional technology. Batteries are still expensive but with the car running on electricity, its fuel costs will be cut to roughly one-third compared with diesel power.
Vattenfall will offer customers the opportunity to sign an agreement for renewable electricity sourced specifically from windpower or hydropower, as an alternative to the regular mix of electricity sources. Lars G Josefsson sees many benefits from chargeable plug-in hybrids, even in cases where the electricity does not come from renewable energy sources.
"Through electric power, we avoid the emissions from each individual car. Instead of petrol or diesel, the energy is derived from a few large power sources and Vattenfall is working hard to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from all electricity production. In Sweden, virtually all Vattenfall's electricity production is emission-free," explains Lars G Josefsson.
The plug-in hybrid cars will be driven by a powerful electric motor fuelled by a lithium-ion battery. The battery takes about five hours to charge from a standard wall socket, and the battery is also charged every time the car's brakes are applied.
"Most car journeys are short trips, for instance to and from work. We will be able to offer a product that fulfils this transportation need. In order to cover longer distances as well, the car will also be equipped with one of Volvo's fuel-efficient diesel engines," says Stephen Odell.
Demonstration cars on show
In the summer of 2009, three Volvo V70 demonstration cars will be presented. The demonstration cars will be used to gather information about the wishes and demands that drivers may have on the new technology, to determine their driving habits and to establish how they want to charge their cars. Vattenfall will, among other things, test various concepts for high-speed home charging and also for charging stations in public places, where owners pay to fuel with electricity instead of petrol or diesel. The cars that are planned to go into series production in 2012 will feature somewhat different technology, but the launch of the demonstration vehicles is a step towards series-producing plug-in hybrid cars specifically tailored to market needs.
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