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Volvo introduces twin-engine technology in the XC90 T8

The first Volvo designed from the ground up for plug-in/electrification compatibility, the XC90 T8 delivers the performance of a luxury SUV, but with emission levels that even small hybrid cars struggle to match.

 



When designing the XC90 T8, Volvo built on the new modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and successful Drive-E petrol powertrain, creating a roomy seven-seater SUV that delivers 405ps/640Nm combined with ultra-low emissions of 59g/km (TBC).

“The XC90 T8 is a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one,” says Peter Mertens, senior vice president, research and development of Volvo Car Group. “The Drive-E engines already offer highly competitive performance versus the competition. The T8 takes it further into a leading position.”

 



The XC90 T8 can go from 0 to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, delivering all the driving pleasure customers have come to expect from a Volvo SUV. But driving pleasure is only a fraction of what the XC90 T8 offers: the car has five different driving modes that deliver a range of performance and efficiency-enhancing characteristics.

Using either a scroll wheel on the center console or a touchscreen on the dashboard, drivers can choose from the default mode, Hybrid, which is suitable for everyday use. Here, the vehicle will automatically alternate between drawing power from the 2-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E engine and the electric motor to deliver the best overall fuel consumption.

In Pure Electric, when the high-voltage battery is fully charged, it serves as the car’s sole energy source, powering the electric motor over the rear axle. The XC90 T8 has a range of up to 40km using just electricity, which covers the total distance most people drive in one day. And thanks to the regenerative braking system, this mode is super-efficient in the stop-and-go traffic of city environments. If more power is needed, the Drive-E combustion engine starts up automatically.

In Power mode, drivers get the combined performance of the combustion engine and the electric motor. On startup, the SUV takes advantage of the electric motor’s superior response and instant torque curve, while the combustion engine gets up to speed. This combination offers better torque at lower revs, equivalent to that of a large displacement engine like the V8.

AWD mode offers constant all-wheel drive on demand. The advantage of being able to select AWD manually is that the driver can use it when needed, or choose to save energy for later.

In Save mode, if the battery is charged, this allows the driver to ‘freeze’ the battery level and save it for later use with Pure Electric drive. On the other hand, if the battery is low, the driver can use the combustion engine to charge the battery to a certain level for later use with Pure Electric drive.

Many of the XC90 T8’s powertrain features have been optimized specifically for hybrid technology.

 

A specially modified version of the 4-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine is under the hood. Already known for its ability to more efficiently deliver the power of an engine twice its size, the Drive-E engine is enhanced in the XC90 T8 by a supercharger and a turbocharger for a total power output of 322ps and 400Nm torque.

The 8-speed automatic gearbox has also been specially adapted for the hybrid – shift-by-wire technology allows drivers to control the transmission electrically. A larger oil pump provides the necessary lubrication during electric drive and enables quicker pressure build-up when seamlessly going from electric to combustion drive.

The crankshaft-mounted starter generator (CISG), located between the engine and the gearbox, performs three important functions: it is a powerful, 34kW starter motor that allows the car to go from pure electric drive to combination combustion drive seamlessly, so drivers can experience the car’s petrol engine and electric motor as one unit; it is also a powerful electric generator; and finally, it acts as an electric engine booster, working with the supercharger and turbocharger when extra power is needed, providing up to 150Nm of extra torque.

 



The high-voltage (270–400V) battery, delivering 65kW of power, is located centrally in the tunnel of the car. There are several advantages to this position. For example, the battery does not impact the amount of available space inside the car. This means that there is room for three rows of seats – plenty of space for people and luggage. Furthermore, the battery placement gives the SUV a low and central centre of gravity, making the XC90 T8 easier to handle and safer to drive.

Delivering 83ps (60kW) and 240Nm torque, the large electric motor sits on the rear axle and drives the back wheels in electric and power-boost modes. The rear placement is significant because it allows for a larger motor, which is useful for following stop-and-go city traffic rhythms. This placement also makes efficient all-wheel drive possible because each axle has its own power source.

The XC90 T8 blended braking system partly uses brake-by-wire technology to recover and transmit energy back into the car, either to recharge the battery or for immediate use. The system is also equipped with a unique stability function that controls the amount of energy that may be safely regenerated.

The unique cooling system is composed of two extra circuits. The first cools the CISG and the large electric motor on the rear axle, while the second cools the battery in one of two ways – passively (via the radiator) or actively (through integration with the car’s climate system).

8 December 2014


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