Volvo Committed To Plug-In Hybrids For Now – BEVs Ready For Future

FEB 4 2015 BY MARK KANE 20

Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90

Volvo, the automaker that demonstrated a fleet of all-electric C30x several years ago, is step-by-step moving to plug-in hybrids – first the V60, and now the XC90.

Editor’s note:  The XC90 has a 9.2 kWh battery pack that provides up to 40 km (25 miles) in the pure electric mode under NEDC conditions – think 17-20 miles on the EPA standard when it arrives in the US later this year.

This is the direction (PHEVs) that will be taken by Swedish company for the next several years.

An all-electric Volvo will be introduced only if the market for BEVs expands, says Volvo.

Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo vice president of product strategy, stated:

“Our focus is the roll-out of our plug-in hybrids. Once there is a more sustainable business case behind full EV we can do it – our platform is scalable and fully flexible. But we must see how the EV business evolves and what pressures there are from fuel efficiency requirements and cities closing borders.”

“With plug-in technology we have some answers now – good efficiency and the option of driving in and out of cities on electric power alone. For now, we can offer the best of both worlds.”

Source: Autocar

Categories: Volvo


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20 Comments on "Volvo Committed To Plug-In Hybrids For Now – BEVs Ready For Future"

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pretty typical of the entrenched manufacturers.
“when the market expands” but doing nothing to expand it.

Volvo is trying to come back from near the grave, they have/are spending around $11bn to fully upgrade their engine lineup to only 4 cylinder models and PHEV as well as building two completely new platforms to underpin all their vehicles. They simply don’t have the cash to blow on a non-“sure” thing right now. They need to get the XC90 out a selling well as well as pump some life into sales of the S80(soon to be S90) and XC70 as well as transition the XC/S/V to the new platforms. Key to meeting the new emissions reqs and simplifying their engine line up has been partial electrification, with the door open to more. It’s a reasonable position to take for such a (relatively) small manufacture operating out of two plants worldwide with no big hits providing extra cash.

I actually agree with Volvo. At one time I was a BEV purist. Then saw the difficulty with using reasonably priced BEVs in MN winter.

The PHEVS are a bridge for both Manufacturers and consumers to get us all used to the plug. Over time the AER will increase until customers realize they’re not using the ICE and will give it up.

The mostly frustrating thing to me is all these offerings with such minimal AER.

17 mile AER? Hardly worth the bother

Doubling it to 34 mile EPA scale adds just a few thousand bucks to an already very expensive car.

I think Volvo Porsche and BMW will be negatively surprised with their sales figures

That said Mitsubishi saved them by not getting their product to US market so they’ll be the only competition for the model X which has its own issues. (Falcon doors, cost, wait times)

But most people in the world don’t live in places like MN. There are tons of countries and regions with moderate weather.

Also, you don’t really agree with Volvo if you think the AER range is too small. You seem to agree with GM and the Volt. Even though I tend to be an EV purist I think the Volt is a fair compromise for a lot of driving patterns, including places with tough winters. I absolutely do not think that sub-20 mile AER cars are serious efforts. I see them as products of a “let’s do the absolute minimum” attitude.

I also think that this is aided by European regulators, who appear to be captured by industry, and also by the pathetically unrealistic, and useless NEDC standard. It should be embarrassing when your standard is so bad that manufacturers like Renault have to clarify NEDC range and “realistic” range for cars like the Zoe.

Europe insists on being one step behind on EVs.

I agree with Volvo’s idea that it may be smarter to start with PHEV and expand into full EV as battery technology improves

I disagree with these pathetic 20 mile AER jokes

I think much of this is based on Chinese regulations and incentives. All these OEMs are shooting for the bare minimum. Frustrating.

The issue with today’s pure EVs goes further than winter. Also issues with extreme heat, any moderately long trip, people who live without dedicated parking or parking with charge options

All are surmountable. Just not yet

Pt here are billions of people who don’t have dedicated charging options. Tesla is learning that in China now

So it’s not just MN

My goal is 99% BEV adoption for passenger vehicles. We’re just not there yet. The technology isn’t there yet

PHEVs will be a bridge to get us there

While doubling the AER would be great from an ideal end user standpoint it doesn’t help in marketing or emissions standards. Volvo added electrification for it’s green cred and to make more power without having to develop, test, and tool up for a larger engine. So they rolled those savings into the electric drivetrain. Think if a basic 240hp engine costs them 5000 and building a whole new low-volume engine would cost 12000 why not just spend 4,000 on minimal electrics and save on dollars per HP compared to your competitors?

This whole 20 mile PHEV idea from Europe is nearly as bankrupt as their push into “clean diesel” over hybrids over a decade ago. The result of that is the filthy air quality we see today in cities like London and Paris.

Only Renault really gets it. BMW might, but I really think they were spooked into action by Tesla, at least initially. Everybody else, Volvo, Peugeot/Citroën, Fiat, Daimler, Audi, Ford, and so on, are basically going for the 20 mile PHEV. It’s the new clean diesel.

It’s going to be hard for these guys to shift to EVs with any speed if they ever want to, because the battery capacity won’t be there. Current and near-term production is probably committed to existing EV makers.

While I generally agree with your reading of the situation, I would add that one benefit of PHEVs is that it’s relatively easy for manufacturers to increase their AER without a major rework. In fact, I would be surprised to find out that any recent or future PHEV wasn’t designed with that possibility in mind, especially given the track record of battery prices.

For the higher-priced car makers, the added expense of having a full ICE in addition to, say, a 50 to 70 mile electric drive train (again, assuming cheaper-than-2015 batteries) isn’t nearly the issue it would be for vehicles expected to sell for much lower prices.

Most car companies are terrified of EVs, since they’re new and different and all sorts of disruptive. They see PHEVs as giving them a safe on-ramp to electrification while not closing off their option to building an EV in a few years. (And I predict every one of them will be making at least one EV model eventually.)

We are kind of speculating on intent. I think the difference is that I don’t necessarily believe they see it as an “on-ramp”. I think it’s possible they simply see it as a way to trudge along through new regulations and the need to greenwash their models for marketing purposes.

What I mean is that, I believe that absent regulation, most of these guys would drop PHEVs without a second thought.

Always hard to read intent, but the fact that they adhere so closely to mandated minimums seems like a tell.

I think the EV community should focus on manufacturers that exceed minimums or compliance strategies. Today this is Renault-Nissan, Tesla, GM, BMW (but so far only with the i3), Mahindra, and BYD. Kia may get into the game, as may Daimler and VW. I can’t think of anybody else worth trusting at this point.

There is no question that the second EV revolution is based significantly on governmental compliance, and doing the minimum possible

But this has been modus operandi for OEMs for generations. For all innovations

OEMs are inherently conservative organizations

Rare is a Carlos Ghosn or Elon Musk

Ghosn could lose his job over his EV push. Or he could triumph

My goal is to support them with my money

If we pay for it they will build

I think you missed the point of the Volvo PHEV system. Which is worse, Having a large V8(X5/6, Cayenne) not fulling using all it “power” emitting more in traffic or running a small PHEV with a I4 turbo that shuts off in traffic and uses electric power to creep along?
Customers shop by the numbers so if the manufacturer can deliver a “450hp” engine that really only runs on 240hp most of the time they get the sale while saving energy/fuel compared to running the V8 they would have normally used to get those numbers.

I guess you mean 24 hp most of the time.

Hmrph. Lots of opinions here. So here’s mine.

I think for a big SUV, PHEV is the way to go right now. Remember that the larger the vehicle, the more battery you will need.

However, I do agree that 20 miles range is on the low side. A good PHEV should be striving for at least 30. But I do think 20 is acceptable, but anything less than 20 starts to enter into the “what’s the point?” category.

Get that up to 100 miles, that would be more in line with 90% of all the round trip commute cases. So if you want to make a usefull PHEV it should have 100 ev miles not 17 or 20. Add to that the advantage of electric motors for full torque and you find out that keeping a wheel connection is not interesting. So you are back with the BMW i3 winning configuration but you must, of course, not make the mistake of the too small tank or the too small SOC Rex start limitation. You also need to keep the car size and shape normal, so not like in the i3.

For large size SUV, ~20mile AER makes sense. Most people buy it as a 2nd car in the family, use it for shorter commute, shopping (both 200 miles). For short commute and shopping trips on such a large vehicle, ICE vehicles are really inefficient, and EV saves a lot.

For large size SUV, ~20mile AER makes sense. Most people buy it as a 2nd car in the family, use it for shorter commute, shopping (both 300 miles).

For short commute and shopping trips on such a large vehicle, ICE vehicles are really inefficient, and EV saves a lot. For >300 miles trips, more battery on PHEV will reduce the mpg significantly.

Is the system cutting the parts of my posts in the parenthesis? That’s really weird.

Having placed an order for a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recently, I can’t see myself using any public charging stations in order to get an 80% charge in 30 mins only to get about 20 miles max !

They just need to get on with producing cars with an EPA of 160 mile bare minimum before EV’s take off big time IMO.

As soon as the leaf or other affordable car hits the market with this range, I will convert to full EV and frankly can’t wait !

Volvo will most likely be the first company of traditional ICE manufacturers to have all their models electrified (around 2017).

Some people seem to forget that EVs are about 0,4% of global sales. And something like 0,02% of total cars on the roads.

Next up will be the 70-series and 80-series.

Humm, I’m wondering if marketing departments are really correctly gauging peoples’ wants/needs. Example: No one makes a decently sized EV or PHEV except the Tesla S Sedan. Manufacturers seem worried that if they don’t make the electric part powerful enough, no one will buy it. Now, how many people as late teenagers or those in their early 20’s bought used VW Transporters (up to 9 passenger, 1000kg (2205 pound) payload), with at first a 42 horsepower, then later a 52 horsepower engine? And with a ‘modern’ 6 Volt electrical system until 1967. At least, they provided a 7 volt, 50 amp (thats 350 watts output) capacity Bosch generator for the extra heavy camping electrical requirements! So what do people overall harp on the most, outside of the blogs here? They want more all electric range, and bigger cars. Of the affordable versions only the Leaf and Volt are popular models, with the volt really only being a compact. Why not try something bigger? We are constantly told batteries are getting so much cheaper all the time… Why not take a LARGE vehicle, shoehorn in a 48 kwh battery (they are cheap nowadays right?), and make a nice PHEV with 100… Read more »