IT’S electric, but not as we know it. Volvo has hit the green light on the world’s first twin engine luxury plug-in SUV.
The first Volvo designed from the ground up for plug-in/electrification compatibility, the XC90 T8, delivers all the performance of a luxury SUV, but with emission levels that even small hybrid cars struggle to match.
When designing the XC90 T8, Volvo Cars chose not to compromise on performance, driving pleasure, efficiency or even luggage space, building on the new modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and successful Drive-E petrol powertrain.
The company has created a uniquely roomy 7-seater SUV that delivers 400hp/640Nm combined with ultra-low emissions (59g/km) and high fuel efficiency (2.5L/100km).
“The XC90 T8 is a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one,” says Dr 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.”
Multiple driving modes include a traditional hybrid option, pure electric, power mode, AWD, and save mode, with the SUV capable of 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds, and powered by a specially modified version of the 4-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine, with a supercharger and a turbocharger for a total power output of 318hp 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 luxurious touch is the gearshift is made of handmade Swedish crystal), and 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.
A rear electric motor delivering 82hp (60kW) and 240Nm torque 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.
For added convenience and efficiency, drivers can pre-condition the XC90 T8’s drivetrain, battery and cabin, either directly from within the car or by using the Volvo On Call mobile app. This ensures that, whether it’s freezing or hot and humid outside, the car will be heated or cooled as necessary and ready to go by the time the driver enters. Pre-conditioning can be done while the car is plugged in, which is beneficial from a CO2 perspective since it ensures that the battery will last as long as possible in Pure Electric Drive mode.