Volvo has revealed details of a new Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that promises significant fuel savings and big power from small engines.
Announcing the results of a two-year project this week, Volvo says the system can endow a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with power comparable to a big six - but with a 25 percent improvement in fuel consumption.
Installed in an S60 sedan, the KERS technology is fitted to the rear axle as a free-spinning flywheel that can reach 60,000rpm.
The flywheel spools up as the car decelerates and keeps spinning while stopped, releasing its energy to the rear wheels through a special transmission as the vehicle takes off.
This gives the car an energy boost, meaning the engine requires less fuel to provide the same acceleration. Volvo says the system provides the equivalent of an extra 60kW of power.
Thanks to that power hike and the all-wheel-drive traction provided by the KERS tech, Volvo says a turbocharged four-cylinder S60 could reach 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds.
And the advantages don’t end with power and fuel savings.
During testing, Volvo discovered that its KERS could store enough energy to power the car on its own for short periods of time. This could allow the engine to be switched off for up to 50 percent of the journey.
Volvo also claims that the system will be much lighter, cheaper and easier to maintain than a petrol-electric hybrid.
The carmaker is now readying a number of evaluation prototypes that will move the project closer to a production future, although it has offered no word on timing.