2016 Volvo XC90: Volvo Hints at Plug-in Hybrid, Electric, Flywheel Hybrid Variants

Volvo, like many other carmakers today, wants to be as green as it possibly can be.  And as part of Volvo’s big Vision for 2020, that means zero tailpipe emissions.

So it’s no surprise then that Volvo’s next generation XC90 SUV, due next year as a 2016 model, will probably be offered with both an all-electric and flywheel electric hybrid configuration at some point in the future, joining the already-promised plug-in hybrid variant.

Volvo's next-gen XC90 is still under wraps, but it'll have some nice plug-in options, say Volvo.

Volvo’s next-gen XC90 is still under wraps, but it’ll have some nice plug-in options, say Volvo.

That’s according to Autocar, who was among one of several publications given an early sneak-peak of the first early-build XC90 on the last day of cold-weather testing in Sweden, prior to the vehicle’s move onto hot-weather testing.

Behind closed doors in the Arctic circle, Autocar laid eyes on the new generation SUV for the first time. Outwardly, Autocar says the new car ‘sticks closely to the formula set by its predecessor’ but is slightly longer, lower and wider than the first generation model. Inside, there’s more interior space,

Where things really differ however, is under the bonnet.

Unlike previous generations of the seven-seat SUV which offered everything up to V-8 engines under the hood, the new generation XC90 — Volvo’s first production vehicle to use its new Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) — will be restricted to four-cylinder internal combustion engines and a cornucopia of green drivetrain options.

These, say Dennis Nobelius, vice-president of Volvo’s Vehicle Line 90 model program, will range from traditional four-cylinder engines to all-electric.

“We have pushed the front wheels forwards and the A-pillars backwards to get a long bonnet,” he said. “We have also restricted the platform to accommodating four-cylinder engines, although there will be everything form a mile hybrid to a pure electric version.”

While the XC90 will likely go on sale initially with a range of different capacity four-cylinder engines, including a 300 brake horsepower version with a turbocharger and a supercharger, Autocar says Volvo’s future lineup will include a through-the-road hybrid, which we suspect will complement the already promised plug-in hybrid version.

Volvo's KERS hybrid flywheel system has been successfully tested in an S60 Sedan. It'll likely make an appearance alongside plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90

Volvo’s KERS hybrid flywheel system has been successfully tested in an S60 Sedan. It’ll likely make an appearance alongside plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90

Because of the way Volvo’s latest engine platform — the Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) — is designed, any of its engines can be paired to work alongside any number of alternative fuel drivetrains. That includes electric motors and even flywheel storage devices. It’s no surprise then that Volvo is also considering an XC90 flywheel hybrid variant, which could dramatically improve fuel efficiency over the 15 to 35 percent improvement already offered by the new generation of four-cylinder VEA engines.

We drove a gasoline S60 flywheel hybrid prototype last year, and was really impressed with potential of the hybrid flywheel system, both in terms of its power delivery and its energy saving potential. 

Naturally, we’re most keen to see Volvo’s all-electric XC90, which will store its battery pack underneath the cabin floor for minimal loss of cabin and load-carrying space. But with such a wide choice of engine and drivetrain options, we’re keen to see just which ones will prove popular with car buyers around the world.

What do you think? Make your pick in the Comments below.

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