Car of Dreams

Volvo ReCharge Plug-In Hybrid Concept Car
by: Jerry Liao

We have heard of cars powered by solar energy like the “SINAG” project. Cars powered by water and of course the most popular of them all – electricity. All pointing to two ultimate goal, to save money from that expensive gasoline and to protect our environment from pollution.

Here’s one project where we can learn a thing or two on how other car manufacturers are doing it:

Volvo Cars is introducing the Volvo ReCharge Concept, a plug-in hybrid with individual electric wheel motors and batteries that can be recharged via a regular electrical outlet for maximum environmental benefit. Recharging allows the car to be driven about 100 kilometres on battery power alone before the car’s four-cylinder Flexifuel engine is needed to power the car and recharge the battery. Volvo ReCharge Concept makes its debut in a specially designed Volvo C30 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

“A certain proportion of electrical vehicles will be necessary to meet the CO2 emission demands of the future. Since the Volvo ReCharge Concept combines an excellent battery range with a backup combustion engine, it is a very interesting concept,” says Magnus Jonsson, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Cars. The ReCharge Concept has been developed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center (VMCC), the Volvo Car Corporation’s think-tank in Camarillo, California.

“This is a ground-breaking innovation for sustainable transportation. A person driving less than 100 kilometres a day will rarely need to visit a filling station. In the USA, this may apply to almost 80 percent of drivers,” says Magnus Jonsson. Thanks to the excellent electrical range from a fuel consumption angle, the Volvo ReCharge Concept is exceptionally kind to the car owner’s wallet.

When driving on electric power only, operating costs are expected to be about 80 percent lower than that of a comparable petrol-powered car. When driving beyond the 100 km battery range, fuel consumption may vary from 0 to 5.5 litres per 100 km depending on the distance driven using the engine.

“This plug-in hybrid car, when used as intended, should have about 66 percent lower emissions of carbon dioxide compared with the best hybrid cars available on the market today. Emissions may be even lower if most of the electricity in intended markets comes from CO2-friendly sources such as biogas, hydropower and nuclear power,” says Magnus Jonsson.

The Volvo ReCharge Concept combines a number of the latest technological innovations into a so-called “series hybrid” where there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels.
– The battery pack integrated into the luggage compartment uses lithium-polymer battery technology. The batteries are intended to have a useful life beyond that of the car itself.
– Four electric motors, one at each wheel, provide independent traction power.
– Four-cylinder 1.6-litre Flexifuel engine drives an advanced generator that efficiently powers the wheel motors when the battery is depleted.

To help maximize the environmental benefits, the Volvo ReCharge Concept has high-efficiency tyres developed by Michelin. They are specially designed to accommodate the wheelmotors. Further more, the car has All Wheel Drive in the truest sense of the term. Power to each wheel is controlled individually. The energy that is generated during braking is transmitted to the battery pack. When the system is ultimately developed, traditional wheel brakes will be completely replaced by electrical brakes with minimal energy wasted through friction. To ensure reliable operation of the drivetrain and braking system, driver inputs are fed into a quadruple-redundant electronic control system.

“The only requirement is that the car owner has access to electrical outlets at convenient places, such as at home or at the workplace. A full recharge takes 3 hours. However, even a one-hour quick charge should provide enough charge to drive about 50 kilometres,” says Magnus Jonsson.

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