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GM's Volvo's New PHEV Concept: ReCharge
Sep 6, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Volvo, owned by GM, which continues to say it's moving the entire company to electric transportation, will show a different kind of PHEV at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Sept 13-23 (Europe's largest). Like the E-Flex Chevy Volt, this is a series hybrid.

Notable features for this concept car, developed in Southern California:

  • 100km (62-mile) electric-only range -- 50% greater than the already-high Volt.
  • Lithium-polymer batteries, a different chemistry than those planned for the Saturn Vue or the Volt.
  • Optional manual control of EV mode, of interest especially in Europe, where some city centers are open only to zero-emission vehicles. (The DC Sprinter delivery vehicle also has this feature.)
  • Promises of wheel motors. Many engineers remain skeptical of this often proposed solution because the added weight in the wheels ("unsprung mass") reduces the driveability of the car. As a concept car, it won't resolve that question! (Mitsubishi's announced its MIEV concept with wheel motors in late 2005 for possible production in 2008; it could show up around 2010.)
  • Partner PML Flightlink previously developed a prototype PHEV conversion of a BMW Mini (see link at GreenCar Congress).
  • Google's PHEV program,, gets an unexpected "plug" from the name.

In addition to the Green Car Congress story below, the AutoBlogGreen report includes video and a link to the Volvo announcement with more technical information:­2007/­09/­06/­frankfurt-preview-volvo-recharge-the-swedes-go-series-hybrid

Volvo To Show Flex-Fuel Plug-In Hybrid Concept at Frankfurt
6 September 2007­2007/­09/­volvo-to-show-f.html

Volvo Cars will introduce the Volvo ReCharge Concept, a plug-in series hybrid with a grid-rechargeable lithium-polymer battery pack and individual electric wheel motors, at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Based on a Volvo C30, the ReCharge supports a 100 km (62 mile) battery-powered range before the four-cylinder 1.6-liter flex-fuel engine kicks in to power the car and recharge the battery. When driving beyond the 100 km battery range, fuel consumption may vary from 0 to 5.5 liters per 100 km (43 mpg US at full liquid fuel consumption) depending on the distance driven using the engine.

For a 150 km (93 mile) drive starting with a full charge, the car will require less than 2.8 liters of fuel, giving the car an effective fuel economy of 1.9 l/100km (124 mpg US for that range).

The combustion engine starts up automatically when the battery pack reaches a 30% state of charge. The driver also has the option of controlling the four-cylinder Flexifuel engine manually via a button in the instrument panel. This allows the driver to start the engine earlier in order to maximize battery charge, for instance when out on the highway in order to save battery capacity for driving through the next town.

A certain proportion of electrical vehicles will be necessary to meet the CO2 emission demands of the future. Since the Volvo ReCharge Concept combines an excellent battery range with a backup combustion engine, it is a very interesting concept.

This plug-in hybrid car, when used as intended, should have about 66 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with the best hybrid cars available on the market today. Emissions may be even lower if most of the electricity in intended markets comes from CO2-friendly sources such as biogas, hydropower and nuclear power. —Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Cars

The central electrical components in the Volvo ReCharge Concept demonstrator--the engine-powered generator and the wheel motors--were developed together with British electromagnetic specialists PML Flightlink. (Earlier post.)

With an individual electric motor at each wheel, weight distribution as well as mechanical efficiency and traction are maximized. The friction in mechanical gears is eliminated. Since the car does not have the transmission found in ordinary cars, there is no need for a gear lever. Power to each wheel is controlled individually. The ReCharge accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 9 seconds with a top speed of 160 km/h.

To help maximize the environmental benefits, the Volvo ReCharge Concept has high-efficiency tires developed by Michelin that are specially designed to accommodate the wheelmotors.

The energy that is generated during braking is transmitted to the battery pack. When the system is ultimately developed, traditional wheel brakes will be completely replaced by electrical brakes with minimal energy wasted through friction.

To ensure reliable operation of the drivetrain and braking system, driver inputs are fed into a quadruple-redundant electronic control system.

A full recharge of the battery pack takes 3 hours. A one-hour quick charge should provide enough charge for a 50 km drive (31 miles), according to Volvo.

The ReCharge Concept was developed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC), the Volvo Car Corporation’s think-tank in Camarillo, California.

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