Volvo Unveils S60 Plug-in Hybrid at Beijing Auto Show

True to its promise of having a zero emissions fleet by 2020, Swedish automaker Volvo has just unveiled a plug-in version of its popular S60 sedan at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show: the Volvo S60L (long-wheel base) Petrol Plug-in Hybrid (PPHEV)

Designed for the Chinese market, the S60L PPHEV should sell well.

Designed for the Chinese market, the S60L PPHEV should sell well.

Based on the same through-the-road plug-in hybrid drivetrain we’ve seen before in Volvo’s V60 plug-in hybrid — but with a gasoline engine instead of a diesel one — the plug-in hybrid sedan will launch in China early next year for the Chinese market.

Under the hood, there’s a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline petrol engine, capable of producing 238 horsepower. Part of a new generation of engines launched last year by Volvo, the 2.0-litre Drive-E engine — like the rest of the Drive-E range — has been designed to work alongside an electric motor if required.

Sandwiched between the engine and the 8-speed automatic gearbox, there’s a crankshaft-driven integrated starter generator, which serves not only to allow the plug-in hybrid to work in series hybrid mode, but also is used to start and stop the engine as required.

Like the V60 plug-in hybrid we drove last summer, the S60L PPHEV features a 50 kilowatt rear-wheel drive electric motor and an 11.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

Keeping with the precedent set up in the V60 PHEV, the S60L PPHEV has three main driving modes: Pure, Hybrid and Power. In Pure mode, the car is powered purely by electric power for up to 30 miles of claimed range — although we note that in the larger V60 PHEV which shares the S60L PPHEV’s drivetrain, we only managed 25 real-world miles.

In Hybrid mode, the gasoline engine and electric motor work in concert, with the car autonomously switching between the two drivetrains for the best possible efficiency, while in Power mode, both the engine and the two electric motors work simultaneously to give the highest torque and 0-62 time of 5.5 seconds.

The latter, we note, places the S60L PPHEV far ahead of cars like the BMW i3 BEVx in terms of acceleration, also massively beating cars like the Nissan LEAF, Toyota Prius, and Chevrolet Volt to boot.

Similar to the V60 PHEV, there’s also an on-demand all-wheel-drive function, which uses both the front and rear electric motors to give the S60L PPHEV good road handling. Being a through-the-road hybrid, there’s no mechanical connection between front and rear wheels, meaning AWD engages instantly without any need for clutches or gearboxes to get in the way.

In keeping with Volvo’s typical safety-conscious focus, the S60L PPHEV’s traction control can also engage AWD in an emergency to help keep the car stable and safe, even if you haven’t engaged it manually. This is especially useful when driving on icy mountain passes or snow-covered roads, something that not every Chinese buyer will encounter but something that all Swedes have experience with.

Volvo says the S60L PPHEV will be made with the Volvo badge locally for Chinese buyers at its Chengdu plant. What isn’t clear at the current time however, is if the car will be given a more general release elsewhere in the world. With sedans less popular in Europe than in China and the U.S., it’s unlikely we’ll see it in Europe, but we could see it gaining attention in the U.S. if priced right — something we don’t know for either the Chinese or rest of the world yet.

As for the L? That denotes the long-wheel base variant, a common trend among cars made for the Chinese market, where long-wheel base variants are considered more prestigious among the rapidly growing middle class.

Would you buy a Volvo S60 Plug-in hybrid, with or without the extra legroom? And what would you pay for it? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • vdiv

    Uhm, is the Mennekes Type 2 plug used in China? It seems that this production prototype was intended for Europe :)nnNow, if we can only bump that electric range to 40 miles and that electric motor to 100 kW, you know, FOUR years after the release of the Volt with such a drivetrain, we may say that at least we are not headed backwards.

  • CDspeed

    “True to its promise of having a zero emissions fleet by 2020”, it has a gasoline engine, so they really haven’t done much at all.

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