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Volvo expands powertrain strategy

Volvo Car Corporation and Siemens are to jointly advance the technical development of electric cars through a new, extensive strategic cooperation.

The two partners will focus on the joint development of electrical drive technology, power electronics and charging technology as well as the integration of those systems into Volvo C30 EV.

The first electric cars of this model fitted with Siemens electric motors will be on test tracks as early as the end of this year. Beginning in late 2012, the Swedish car maker plans to deliver a test series of up to 200 vehicles to Siemens, which will then be tested and validated under real-life conditions as part of a Siemens internal test fleet.

Commentators say that the new partnership will give Siemens the chance to extend its industrial expertise in electric drive technology into the automotive market. Volvo will be relying on proven and efficient Siemens technology for the electrification of its future vehicles. Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation, added: "We are very happy to have Siemens as a partner. Their world-leading knowledge and experience will bring the technology in our electric cars up to an entirely new level

"We are moving ahead quickly in this area. Our aim is to be first with the latest technology within electrification. The partnership reinforces our aim to pursue the fast-growing market for electric cars."

Siegfried Russwurm, Siemens board member and CEO of the Siemens Industry Sector electric cars, said: "Co-operation with Volvo is an important milestone in the development of top-quality components and systems for electric cars subsequently intended for series production. It is our long-term goal to establish Siemens as a global system provider both inside and outside of electric vehicles. We see ourselves as a comprehensive electric mobility pioneer."

Siemens electric motors developed for Volvo have a peak power output of 108kW with a maximum torque of 220Nm. The inverter design will be jointly optimized to meet all safety requirements in an automotive application. In addition, Siemens will provide highly efficient and fast on-board and off-board charging systems.

Volvo Car Corporation starts small-scale production of the Volvo C30 Electric this year, and next year the company will start selling the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid. In addition to its electric vehicle program, the Swedish car maker is also set to unveil a downsized engine range consisting solely of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

"It's time to stop counting cylinders. At the Frankfurt Motor Show we will reveal a new concept car. It proves that downsized engines can go hand in hand with our customers' expectations on luxury and driving pleasure," says Peter Mertens, senior vice president research and development at Volvo Car Corporation.

Volvo Car Corporation's upcoming four-cylinder VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) engine range includes common rail diesels and direct injected petrol engines. It covers the whole range from high power and torque variants to fuel-efficient derivatives.

"Our four-cylinder focus is the perfect way for us to quickly reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. We will develop four-cylinder engines with higher performance than today's six-cylinder units and lower fuel consumption than the current four-cylinder generation," continues Mertens.

The new VEA engines reduce the number of unique parts by 60%. The new powertrains are also up to 90kg lighter than the present ones and fuel economy is improved by up to 35%.

Modularity and compact transverse design are also ideal for future electrification developments. To cover all customer requirements, certain engines will gain added performance via hybrid or other spearhead technology, such as flywheel drive.

Later this year, Volvo Car Corporation will become one of the first car makers in the world to test the potential of flywheel drive on public roads. The KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) captures braking energy in a flywheel that spins at up to 60,000revs a minute. Once released, this stored energy can either accelerate the car or propel the vehicle once it reaches cruising speed.

"The flywheel system offers the driver an additional 80 horsepower while reducing fuel consumption by up to 20 percent," says Mertens.

Volvo Car Corporation will promote economies of scale within the company's own model range via a new vehicle architecture: SPA (Scalable Platform Architecture). SPA allows most Volvo models to be built on the same production line irrespective of vehicle size and complexity.

"We're taking our technological future into our own hands. Both our new architecture and the new engine range will enable us to be on par or even beat our toughest competitors in crucial areas such as driving dynamics and fuel economy," says Mertens.

In addition to the industrial benefits of common vehicle architecture, there are also significant product-related advantages. Volvo Car Corporation will take the lead in automotive lightweight design with upcoming SPA models being 100-150kg lighter than current models of the same size.

The new architecture enables electrification at all levels - and new chassis technologies combined with the lower weight and improved weight distribution will boost driving dynamics. The electrical architecture is the backbone of the company's drive to reinforce its leading position in active safety.

12 September 2011


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