Tony O'Kane | Jun 1, 2009

LATE LAST YEAR Volvo announced that it would be launching its first diesel-electric hybrid model in 2012, which will spearhead a range of fuel-sipping Volvos.

Now the Swedish automaker has upped the ante, announcing a partnership with Swedish power company Vattenfall and pledging to have its first plug-in hybrid on the road in 2012.

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The industrial joint venture will see Volvo designing and manufacturing the car itself while Vattenfall develops a wall-mounted charging station.

The joint venture is an extension of an existing partership between the two companies that was brokered in 2007, which yielded the C30-based Volvo ReCharge concept. It's not clear at this stage what type of car will be the first product of Volvo's and Vattenfall's alliance, but it most definitely will utilise a diesel engine and aim for a combined fuel consumption figure of 2.0l/100km.

"We want to reinforce electricity's importance in society and its key role in solving climate issues. Through this cooperation we hope to be able to speed up the introduction of electric cars," Lars G Josefsson, President and CEO of Vattenfall, said.

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Emissions are expected to be a scant 50 grams of carbon per kilometre, and regenerative braking will extend the EV-only range of the car. Volvo is aiming for a charging time of 5 hours from a standard wall outlet, while higher-voltage charging stations may drop that figure markedly.

Volvo's move to plug-in hybrids certainly makes sense in a world market that's almost perpetually at the mercy of rising oil prices, but it also makes sound environmental sense too. The majority of Sweden's electrical power is generated through non-fossil fuels, and running cars on electricity should help cut the country's emissions even further.

volvo_v70_hybridmule_01As yet there's no specs on the plug-in Volvo's electric-only range, or about how powerful, how expensive and how large it'll be. Three V70 test mules (above) will be used to develop the technology in preparation for series production, but that's no guarantee that the first production hybrids will use the same platform.

With a projected launch date of "sometime in 2012", it's still far too early to speculate, but we'll be among the first to bring you that info when it arrives. We'll be keeping our eye on this one.

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