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2014-12-08 13:55

BIG LITTLE MACHINE: Volvo's XC90 is believed to deliver the performance of a luxury SUV with emissions of a small hybrid.Image: Volvo

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Meet the first Volvo designed from the ground up for plug-in/electrification compatibility, the XC90 T8. It claims to deliver the performance of a luxury SUV but with emission levels lower than even a small hybrid.

Volvo Cars chose not to compromise on performance, driving pleasure, efficiency or even luggage space. By building on the new modular “scalable product architecture” platform and successful Drive-E petrol power train, the company has created a uniquely roomy seven-seat SUV that delivers 300kW/640Nm with ultra-low emissions of 59g/km (to be confirmed).

VIDEO: XC90 T8 engine animation

Peter Mertens, senior vice-president for research and development with the Volvo Car Group, said: “The XC90 T8 is a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one. The Drive-E engines already offer highly competitive performance versus the competition - the T8 takes it into a leading position.”


The XC90 T8, Volvo says, can reach 100km/h in 5.9sec yet deliver all the driving pleasure customers have come to expect from a Volvo SUV. But, the automaker adds: “Driving pleasure is only a fraction of what the XC90 T8 offers: the car has five driving modes that deliver a range of performance and efficiency-enhancing characteristics.”

Using either a scroll wheel on the centre console or a touch-screen on the facia, drivers can choose from:

Hybrid: Default mode, suitable for everyday use. The car will automatically alternate between drawing power from the two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E engine and the electric motor to deliver the best overall fuel-consumption.

Pure electric: With the high-voltage battery fully charged, it serves as the car’s sole energy source, powering the electric motor over the rear axle. The XC90 T8 has a range of up to 40km using only electricity. Volvo reckons that’s the distance covered by most people in a day.

Regenerative braking is most efficient in city traffic but if more power is needed, the Drive-E combustion engine fire automatically.

Power mode: Combustion engine and electric motor working together. On start-up the SUV takes advantage of the electric motor’s superior response and instant torque while the combustion engine gets up to speed. This combination offers better torque at lower revs, equivalent to that of a large-displacement engine such as a V8.

AWD: Constantly ready all-wheel drive. The advantage of being able to select AWD manually is that the driver can use it when needed, or choose to save energy for later.

Save: If the battery is charged, the driver can “freeze” the battery level for later use with battery-only drive. On the other hand, if the battery is low, the driver can use the combustion engine to charge the battery to a certain level for later use with battery drive.

Under the shell
Many of the XC90 T8’s power-train features have been optimised for hybrid technology. Here are the main components of the system:

Drive-E engine
A specially modified version of the four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine is fitted. Already known for its ability to more-efficiently deliver the power of an engine twice its size, the Drive-E engine is enhanced in the XC90 T8 by a supercharger and a turbocharger for a total power output of about 240kW/400Nm.

Automatic gearbox
The eight-speed auto gearbox has,  Volvo says, been adapted for the hybrid: shift-by-wire technology allows a driver to control the transmission electrically (a luxurious touch is the gearshift is made of handmade Swedish crystal). A larger oil pump provides the necessary lubrication during electric drive and enables quicker pressure build-up when seamlessly shifting from electric to combustion drive.

The crankshaft-mounted starter/generator (CISG) between engine and the gearbox performs three important functions:
  • Powerful, 34kW starter motor that allows the car to go from pure electric drive to combination combustion drive seamlessly, so drivers can experience the car’s petrol engine and electric motor as one unit.
  • Powerful electric generator;.
  • Electric engine booster, working with the supercharger and turbocharger when extra power is needed, providing up to 150Nm of extra torque.

The high-voltage (270–400V) battery, delivering 65kW, is an excellent example of Volvo’s success with the XC90 T8. While other carmakers have struggled to combine the bulk of a battery pack with a luxurious and spacious interior, Volvo has managed to overcome this challenge by placing the battery centrally in the tunnel of the car.

There are several advantages to this position. For example, the battery does not affect the amount of available space inside the car. This means that there is room for three rows of seats – plenty of space for people and luggage. Furthermore, the battery placement gives the SUV a low and central centre of gravity, making the XC90 T8 easier to handle and safer to drive.

Rear electric motor
Delivering 60kW/240Nm, the large electric motor sits on the rear axle and drives the back wheels in electric and power-boost modes. The rear placement is significant because it allows for a larger motor, which is useful for following stop/go city traffic. This placement also makes efficient all-wheel drive possible because each axle has its own power source.

Two-step braking
The XC90 T8 blended braking system partly uses brake-by-wire technology to recover and transmit energy back into the car, either to recharge the battery or for immediate use. The system is also equipped with a unique stability function that controls the amount of energy that may be safely regenerated.

Unique cooling and aircon
The unique cooling system is composed of two extra circuits. The first cools the CISG and the large electric motor on the rear axle, while the second cools the battery in one of two ways: either passively, via the radiator, or actively through integration with the car’s aircon.

For convenience and efficiency, drivers can pre-condition the XC90 T8’s drivetrain, battery and cabin, either directly from within the car or by using the Volvo On Call mobile app. This ensures that, whether it’s freezing or hot and humid outside, the car will be heated or cooled as necessary and ready to go by the time the driver enters. Pre-conditioning can be done while the car is plugged in, which is beneficial from a CO2 perspective since it ensures that the battery will last as long as possible in Pure Electric Drive mode.

A heritage of innovation
As the world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV, the XC90 T8 joins a long list of Volvo Cars innovations designed to create a more comfortable driving experience, a cleaner environment and safer roads.

The data in the press release are based on the NEDC certification cycle used in the EU. The figures are preliminary.

Read more on:    volvo  |  sweden  |  suv  |  hybrid  |  new model

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