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Rumors: Volvo V60 Wagon Could Come Stateside as Hybrid

by Stuart Fowle and George Achorn, V60 Rendering by Stuart Fowle

Jan 19, 2011 - 1:53:32 PM

Yes, while Volvo’s current range of wagons continues its exodus from the North American market, recent conversations suggest there may still be an outside chance for the company’s newest and most striking estate, the V60. But as with most great news, there is a catch.

While attending a dinner put on by Volvo on the eve of the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, we set out to fulfill our obligation to you the readers and Volvo faithful by making yet another argument for more wagons (and manual transmissions, and R cars) here in the States. Sitting across from us, Volvo Cars CEO Stefan Jacoby, apparently not yet used to our protests, didn’t immediately shoot them down. Instead, he cryptically noted that a wagon like the V60 was an “enthusiast’s vehicle” and could be made to come here, but it would have to offer something unique like maybe a hybrid badge.
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We chatted about a lot that night including the aforementioned Rs, manual transmissions and even minivans (Jacoby says no, and he’s the man behind the Volkswagen Routan), so we didn’t immediately take the idea of a V60 hybrid away from dinner as a hot bit of news, at least until we chatted with another source from Sweden.

From what we can tell, there’s been talk of a V60 hybrid and likely even internal confirmation. With the V70 now retired from the US market and the smaller V60 not having been introduced here yet (and with no former plan to do so), we’re guessing Jacoby looked at Volvo’s latest wagon and saw an opportunity.

In his words, the car is an “enthusiast’s” car and by that we don’t necessarily mean a performance enthusiast but rather a more general Volvo enthusiast. Going fast is great, but being green is also worth paying a premium. Meanwhile, cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight have made more of a statement in having their own unique body styles. By using the new V60 wagon for its first North American hybrid, Volvo would be packaging it in a unique body configuration that is also uniquely Volvo.

What form will the V60 Hybrid take? We’re guessing that, considering that car shares its EUCD platform with the larger V70, the work that has already been done with energy supplier Vattenfall will carry over to the V60. Volvo says it’ll debut its first plug-in hybrid by 2012, and we’re guessing (at least in America) it’ll be a V60, not the 70 we’ve seen testing the technology. Volvo will likely jump right over hybrids of the non-plug-in variety.

In past releases, Volvo has already made a few promises about the goals it has set out for its first hybrid. It’ll go about 745 miles (1200 km) on a full charge and a full tank, it will emit below 50 g/km of carbon dioxide, and its European fuel economy goal is under 2.0 liters per 100 km.
"We move into the future with the aspiration to design vehicles with minimised environmental impact, as well as the ambition to produce the world's safest cars," Stefan Jacoby said in an official statement. The new Volvo Cars CEO also stressed the importance of getting C30 electric test cars to market during this month’s big auto show.

The plug-in hybrid under development right now achieves those goals stated above with a diesel engine under the hood, something not currently offered at all by Volvo Cars of North America though in unrelated discussions we’ve heard mention of this in the past also. While it’s not certain how a potential US-market hybrid will burn its fossil fuels, we can’t imagine Volvo is willing to develop a second powertrain around a gas engine just for the American market. Still, cost of the diesel motors along with a shaky diesel market here in the US is to blame for that technology not catching on here, by adding on top of that the cost of an electric powertrain, a diesel hybrid V60 could end up being one pricey wagon.

Yes, diesel, electric, and a wagon body, all in one. The many things Volvo enthusiasts have been begging for could end up arriving in one perfect package. Will the hybrid powertrain make Americans fall in love with diesels? Will the serious fuel economy benefits be enough to lure the masses away from crossovers and back to wagons? Are traditional Volvo buyers ready to get on the hybrid bandwagon? Next year, the company may just bet big to get the answers to all those questions at once.
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