Late last year, Swedish automaker Volvo said that the range-topping plug-in hybrid variant of its recently-launched 2016 Volvo XC90 SUV — the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV — would likely achieve a combined fuel economy of around 59 MPGe on the combined U.S. test cycle, emitting around 59 grams of CO2 per kilometer travelled.
But as Autocar reports, a ‘high-level’ source talking at the Shanghai Motor Show this week told the publication that the full-size plug-in hybrid SUV will be given an official emissions rating some 10 grams less, making it far more efficient and far less polluting than originally thought.
The improvement — down to 49 grams per kilometer of CO2 on the NEDC test cycle — means that Volvo’s range-topping XC90 T8 will beat the diesel variant of the upcoming 2016 Audi Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid by one gram of CO2 per kilometer when it comes to european emissions figures.
Autocar says that the adjusted figures should mean the Volvo XC90 T8 receives an official gas mileage figure of 167 mpg on the overly-optimistic NEDC test cycle for plug-in hybrid cars. Designed to test plug-in hybrid cars for two-thirds of the time in electric mode and one third in hybrid mode, the NEDC test cycle for plug-in hybrids tends to produce combined gas mileage figures far higher than the U.S. EPA test cycle.
That’s because the U.S. EPA uses two distinct measurements to quantify plug-in hybrid performance and efficiency: a miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) figure for electric-only operation and a miles per gallon (MPG) figure for operation in purely hybrid mode.
A direct translation of the predicted NEDC combined cycle figures for the Volvo XC90 T8 from imperial gallons to U.S. gallons yields a combined gasoline/electric figure of around 140 mpg. Given the test cycle’s optimistic tendencies, we predict a real-world figure with 2/3 of the driving done in electric and 1/3 in gasoline will likely produce a figure closer to 125 mpg U.S.
Due to officially launch later this year, the Volvo T8 plug-in hybrid uses a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and not one but two electric motors to provide all-wheel drive capabilities.
Unlike the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro, which uses a single electric motor is built into a specially-designed 8-speed tiptronic gearbox and a conventional all-wheel drive transfer box and prop shaft to send power to the rear wheels, the Volvo XC90 T8 is a through-the-road hybrid.
Instead of a traditional all-wheel drivetrain, the larger of two electric motors — rated at 60 kilowatts — is attached directly to the rear axle through a fixed-ratio gearbox, while the front wheels are driven by either the gasoline engine or smaller 34-kilowatt crankshaft-mounted combined starter generator through a specially-designed automatic transmission.
The absence of a propshaft frees up the centre transmission tunnel for battery pack storage, retaining as much free space as possible within the cabin.
While the Volvo XC90 T8 looks to beat the Audi Q7 e-tron in terms of combined fuel efficiency on the European NEDC test cycle however, it’s worth noting that the Q7 e-tron has a larger on-board battery pack and thus a longer theoretical all-electric range than the XC90 T8. While the Volvo is expected to handle around 24 miles from its 9.9 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the Audi is expected to manage nearer to 34 miles from its larger 14.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack.
While it may be less efficient with that power, that extra electric range may make the Audi Q7 e-tron the ultimate winner. Until both automakers publish their official pricing, spec lists, performance figures and fuel economy ratings however, we won’t know for sure.
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