If you love the safe feeling of driving a Volvo but not the around-town gas mileage (16 mpg in an S80!), do the Swedes have good news for you. Volvo announced at the Paris auto show, where green was king, that it would introduce start-stop technology in some of its 2009 models, with diesel hybrids to appear in 2012 and plug-in hybrids to come sometime soon after that.
The smaller C30, S40, and V50 will get the start-stop treatment first. This relatively uncomplicated technology shuts off the engine when it’s not under load, at stop lights, say, and starts it back up when you’re ready to get moving. Start-stop will make its way into the rest of Volvo’s lineup in the future.
Diesel hybrid systems will be used in the company’s larger vehicles, like SUVs, wagons, and the big sedans. The Volvo setup will have a 5-cylinder turbodiesel engine to drive the front wheels and an electric motor to power the rear wheels. At low speeds, the electric motor will be able to do all the necessary work.
Automotive News mentioned that electric motors and diesel engines have the same shortcoming, namely a lack of horsepower at high rpm. Volvo execs say that they’re more interested in reducing CO2 emissions, and this is the best way for them to do that. I doubt many people were buying Volvo wagons for their sportiness, anyway.