Mike Stevens | Sep 28, 2009

VOLVO UNVEILED the all-electric C30 BEV at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week, and today the Swedish carmaker has announced plans to have a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle in production by 2012.

Plans for a diesel-electric Volvo hybrid first came to light late last year, when Volvo announced it had been working on a range of new ultra-efficient vehicles such as the DRIVe line-up and the C30 BEV revealed last week.

Volvo’s system pairs its venerable five-cylinder turbodiesel with an electric motor, with the diesel engine driving the front wheels and the electric motor turning the rears.

Combined with start-stop engine technology, the hybrid system should deliver ultra-frugal fuel consumption during urban trips, while remaining relatively easy to service thanks to the separation of the diesel and electric engines.

According to Volvo, carbon emissions for its diesel-electric hybrid will be as low as 50g/km - 39g/km less than the new third-generation Toyota Prius.

However, Toyota used the Frankfurt event to show off its own new plug-in version of the Prius, featuring an emissions rating of just 60g/km.

Volvo has not indicated which of its models will be the first to receive the hybrid technology, and although the C30 has been the focus of most of Volvo's fuel-efficiency projects, the V70 wagon formed the basis for the carmaker's most recent diesel-electric experiments.

Earlier this year, the Swedish government announced plans to rid the country of its oil dependency by 2030, clearing the road of all but the greenest ethanol and electricity-powered vehicles.

In the short term, Volvo is set to utilise Ford's new EcoBoost engine range some time after next year, with direct injection and turbo-charging maintaining power levels but keeping fuel consumption to a minimum.

The 2010 Volvo C30 DRIVe is due later this year, offering a fuel economy rating of 3.9 l/100km, putting it in line with the 2009 MINI Cooper D and the new Toyota Prius.

Powered by a 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, the C30 DRIVe will offer not only one of the best fuel economy ratings in the country, but it will also return an emissions figure of just 104g/km, making the C30 DRIVe the best in its class for CO2 emissions.

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