Volvo’s New 3-Cylinder Was Designed For PHEVs

MAR 21 2018 BY MARK KANE 20

Volvo is moving forward with electrification of its smaller models like the XC40. The compact SUV will get an all-new 1.5 liter, three-cylinder, direct-injection petrol engine.

It’s the first three-cylinder engine in the company’s 91-year history, developed for plug-in hybrid cars.

Volvo expects that 10% of the XC40’s ICE sales will be equipped with the new three-cylinder Drive-E powertrain, but its main purpose is PHEV applications. Per Volvo:

New Volvo XC40 – exterior

“The all-new 1.5 litre, three-cylinder, direct-injection petrol engine was developed in-house using the same modular design as Volvo’s four-cylinder Drive-E engines. The three-cylinder powertrain comes with a manual six-speed transmission. An optional automatic eight-speed transmission will follow next year.

In line with Volvo Cars’ strategy to continue improving economies of scale, the engine will roll off the same production lines as the company’s four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.”

“Volvo’s current D3 150hp diesel and T4 190hp petrol engines are also added to broaden the XC40 engine offer.

Furthermore, the new three-cylinder powertrain has been deliberately designed for integration into Twin Engine plug-in hybrid cars. A hybridised as well as a pure electric powertrain option for the XC40 will be added later.

XC40 customers now also have more choice in trim levels, including base, the launch variants Momentum and R-Design, plus the luxurious new Inscription level.

The Inscription trim offers exterior styling choices with 18”, 19” or 20” rims, unique skidplates, side window and grill mesh chrome, plus model-specific car colours. Inside, Inscription adds a newly designed crystal gear knob and the attractive Driftwood deco, which Volvo first introduced in its award-winning XC60 mid-size SUV.

XC40 customers can further express themselves with accessories like the 21” Black Diamond Cut alloy wheels, and the new accessory styling kit that offers brushed stainless steel skidplates and integrated dual tailpipes.”

Alexander Petrofski, senior director at Volvo Cars, said:

New Volvo XC40 Inscription – interior

“Our new three-cylinder engine is an exciting development for the XC40 and for Volvo Cars in general. This compact engine design provides the flexibility we need as we introduce more powertrain options for XC40 customers.”

“The new XC40 is a youthful car that suits drivers with a strong sense of individuality. We want our customers to be able to make a statement their way – subtle or otherwise – and so we want to offer them more choices, both in performance and styling.”

Drive-E 3 cylinder Petrol – interior

Drive-E 3 cylinder Petrol – modular design

Drive-E 3 cylinder Petrol – optimised structure

Categories: Volvo


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20 Comments on "Volvo’s New 3-Cylinder Was Designed For PHEVs"

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That’s a dealbreaker. A gas-powered Rube Goldberg device -and all the maintenance that goes with it- is the last thing I want to see inside EVs

Be careful of what you wish for… For all you know you could saddle us with Fuel Cell news from now on.

You don’t want to see news pertaining to PHEVs?

> will get an all-new 15 liter three-cylinder direct-injection



“> will get an all-new 15 liter three-cylinder direct-injection”
I missed that; sure you’re not confusing it with-
‘Volvo’s current D3 150hp diesel’ ?

This is good news. I would prefer to see range extenders getting smaller and more purpose built, sort of like the BMW i3’s Rex.

Keep hoping Ford realizes they have a 1.0l ecoboost engine that could fit that purpose. Transit Connect or Ranger…

Call me underwhelmed. First off, the thing apparently has one of those ‘Rubber Band’ timing belts – made even ‘Better’ if this is one of those ‘Interference Engines’, where the Piston smashes into to the open valves if the rubber band breaks.

Maybe the pic above was just a generic one, but why would a phev need a 12 volt battery charging alternator – unless Volvo is doing something I’ve never seen before with AWD PHEV’s, where as each axle is COMPLETELY separate, and once the electric portion goes dead the thing reverts to a TOTAL gasoline machine unaware that it was ever a PHEV.

Even the cheap 1400 cc engine in the original Volt and ELR at least has a zero-maintenance timing chain that just always works, not ever likely to snap as those belts do.

I’m fairly certain that Kia/Hyundai are the ONLY manufacturers of PHEV/BEV that do not also have a 12V battery. Even Teslas have one. The bulk of the electronics on a car are made for 12V systems.

Tom your point about the 12 volt battery is an irrelevancy.
Early Roadsters had none; my later roadster had a motor cycle lead acid battery in it, but neither vintage had a shaft-driven alternator.

Neither do any GM PHEV or BEV products. Since the cars have to drive for extended periods of time with NO ENGINE running, they have DC/DC (350 – 14 volt) power supplies which function as ‘alternator replacements’.

All of GM’s PHEV’s to date use one or another various tricks to get the drive motor to crank the engine to get it started – eliminating the ‘starter motor’ which this engine apparently also has since there is a ‘ring gear’ showing.

The car ‘starter’ and ‘solenoid’ are clearly visible also.

Not only does the photo appear to show an alternator, there also appears to be an ICE driven A/C compressor just below it. Does this mean the Volvo plug-in has to run the ICE all of the time to produce 12 volts and air conditioning?

It would be nice if the mechanical coupling of the generator was shown and an indication of how much power It is capable of producing.

Editor: Typed the same comments several times and no hint of them here.

Got it, Bill.

Great news, all this is part of engine downsizing and use of more batteries.

Slowly we are moving towards more hybrids/plugins.

And they can drop the diesel engines slowly.

This is the 3-cyl engine like GM originally wanted to put into the Volt, but they didn’t have time to emissions certify. Good to see a company running with that original idea and hopefully making it work.

direct injection? Ugh what a waste of article… This type of engine is the worst. Toyota is doing it right with the Atkinson cycle gas engine. That’s the only engine that should ever be in hybrids or plug in hybrids.

The presence of an alternator – and all that it implies – is sensible, IMHO, and will be until the electric motor side of the hybrid power train is completely failures-proof (IOW, until it is one piece, solid state, no moving parts, never). I also assume this to be a newer style device that serves double duty (stop-start technology). I feel less certain about the air conditioner compressor, and can only assume that, on the balance – and in the real world – it works out as a positive (possibly, but not necessarily in terms of fuel economy, being able to provide cabin cooling and/or window cleaning at ANY time one of these things are required, et cetera). As to direct injection, there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept, and out does bring obvious benefits. Of course, the technology does tend to require good maintenance habits, using a very high quality engineer oil such as Pennzoil Ultra Platinum, decent quality gasoline, and a top notch fuel Firestone setup wouldn’t hurt, either (which is something that some manufacturers do not appear to have grasped yet). It might also prove advantageous for the vehicles to have some sort of provision for… Read more »

Fred: Doesn’t look like a ‘starter-alternator’ for 2 reasons):

1). There is a 14 volt regulator at the back of the Alternator.

2). There is also a plain old Starter motor and Solenoid intermittently interfacing the ring gear at the back of the engine.

Most ‘mild hybrids’ run on 48 volts – I doubt this car has 3 sets of batteries in it (12, 48, 300 volts). Also, you don’t need to have 3 completely different ways to crank the engine; my VOlts and ELR had neither an alternator, ‘starter-alternator’ nor Solenoid – Starter, yet the engine would crank start anyway as I mentioned in my previous comment.

Folks, I apologise for the horrible auto-“correction” induced errors in my above post. I am not used to “typing” on a virtual keyboard, for some reason this website seems unable to let me see the entirety of what I am entering (both sides are cut off, so I am entering a lot of text blindly), and I was given NO chance to review my message before submitting it. I see no way to edit it after submitting it, either, so I suppose you can blame the shoddy software that the owner of this website chooses to run (either out of ignorance or to save a dollar, I don’t know which). Nonetheless, again, I apologise for the results.

Fuel Firestone should be fuel FILTRATION. I hope the other word are decipherable.