Volvo has upgraded the plug-in hybrid powertrains of the large SPA platform. In the Recharge models of the 60 and 90 series, not only is the electric range expected to increase to up to 90 kilometres, but the system performance has also been increased somewhat.
The core of the revision is a new battery. In the models based on the SPA platform (Scalable Product Architecture), the battery is still located in the cardan tunnel in order to provide the best possible protection in the event of an accident. However, this has limited the available installation space for the battery compared to other PHEVs, which means that the energy content of 11.6 kWh so far has been manageable.
According to Volvo, with new cells a third cell layer could be built into the battery housing, increasing the energy content of the battery pack to 18.8 kWh. The new battery is thus “expected to allow up to 90 kilometres” of pure electric range. Volvo does not provide further details such as model and drive configuration – but it is likely to be the S90 T6 Recharge sedan rather than the XC90 T8 Recharge large SUV.
Volvo does not give any information about the charging power in the announcement. Until now, the SPA models have only supported single-phase charging at 3.7 kW. With the new 18.8 kWh battery, this would result in a charging time of over five hours, and with 2.3 kW at an earthed socket, over eight hours.
Official figures for WLTP consumption and CO2 emissions are not yet available. But Volvo says it estimates that the new powertrain can reduce CO2 emissions in the WLTP driving cycle by up to 50 per cent. In practice, this should not only increase the purely electric driving shares, customers should also be able to use the pre-air conditioning via app more often “both on cold winter days and in high temperatures” – even if the vehicle is not charging at the time.
“It’s 2021, and people should no longer have to rely on petrol or diesel when commuting,” says Henrik Green, chief technology officer (CTO) at Volvo Cars. “Our latest plug-in hybrids deliver all the electric driving range needed in most people’s everyday life.”
The performance of the two available PHEV powertrains has also been adjusted. The electric motor mounted on the rear axle increases from 65 kW to now 107 kW. This means that the T6 models will in future have a system output of 257 kW, the T8 models 331 kW. In the T8 models, the two-litre petrol engine has also been adapted.
While the increased system output is likely to be of secondary importance in everyday driving, Volvo emphasises two other aspects of the more powerful electric motor. Firstly, one-pedal driving has been improved in selected models (XC60 Recharge, S90 Recharge and V90 Recharge). And because the rear wheels are driven only by the electric motor in the powertrain layout, the more powerful electric motor provides better all-wheel-drive.
“Driving a plug-in hybrid is often a stepping-stone to going fully electric,” says Henrik Green. “We believe that this upgrade will show to many that driving electric is the future, and take us closer to our 2030 ambition of becoming fully electric.”
The PHEV variants of the XC40, which is based on the CMA platform, remain unchanged for now.
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