Volvo has revealed its upcoming V60 Plug-in Hybrid this week, with a Geneva Motor Show debut planned and a 2012 sale date on the cards.
Although a number of brands are working to bring diesel/electric hybrids to market, Volvo says its hybridised V60 is the world's first plug-in hybrid diesel - a distinction that means the Volvo can run on electricity alone for up to 51 kilometres.
Power for the plug-in hybrid is provided by a combination of Volvo's 150kW/440Nm 2.4 litre five-cylinder D5 turbodiesel, paired with an electric motor producing 50kW and 200Nm of torque.
With the diesel engine driving the front wheels and the electric motor mounted at the rear axle, the V60 plug-in hybrid sprints to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds when in 'Power' mode - a full second quicker than the regular V60 using the same diesel engine.
"The second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who wants a superbly carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure. To get drivers to think green, we have offered both, in one traditional genuine sports wagon" Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars said.
Mr Jacoby said that while the technology is still in the final stages of development, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid that will be shown at Geneva offers a clear indication of what customers can expect when it enters production next year.
"What we've done is to spice it up with spearhead technology that allows the driver to choose: zero emissions, high-efficiency hybrid or full-on performance. Just select the mode that suits best," he added.
Three driving modes are available, with the main Hybrid mode joined by a Pure (electric-only) mode and Power - a performance-focused setting for the diesel/electric powertrain.
In Hybrid mode, the wagon lists fuel consumption figures of just 1.9 l/100km - besting the Toyota Prius hybrid by a full 2.0 l/100km, and falling just shy of the petrol/electric Prius Plug-in Hybrid's 1.75 l/100km. Carbon emissions are listed at a very low 49g/km.
Hybrid mode also gives the V60 Plug-in Hybrid a driving range of up to 1200 kilometres.
The V60 Plug-in Hybrid also offers all-wheel-drive capability, with a button in the cabin activating a 'central control unit' that manages torque distribution across the diesel-driven front wheels and the electric-driven rear wheels.
Exactly launch dates and pricing details have yet to be revealed, although Volvo has confirmed that the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be more expensive than its regular V60 counterpart.
The company expects this to be only a minor factor however, with the plug-in hybrid's low fuel consumption expected to save buyers thousands over time.
While the regular Volvo V60 diesel and petrol models are scheduled for an Australian market debut early this year, the V60 plug-in hybrid is not expected to make its international sales debut until 2012.
The V60's sedan counterpart, the Volvo S60, is on sale in Australia now.