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First look: Volvo plugs in

Unplugged: ReCharge concept takes three hours to fully recharge.

Volvo C30-based ReCharge concept signals FoMoCo's shift towards plug-in hybrid power

10 Sep 2007

FORD will move to assert to its green credentials in Europe at the Frankfurt motor show this week, using its Swedish brand Volvo to unveil a plug-in hybrid car based on the C30 hatch.

Known as the ReCharge Concept, the vehicle has electric motors in each wheel that are powered by lithium-polymer batteries (which are in turn charged via a regular power outlet).

According to Volvo, the ReCharge can be driven approximately 100km on battery power alone before the 1.6-litre “Flexifuel” four-cylinder engine – which itself runs on 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol – is needed to power the car.

18 center imageVolvo claims the vehicle has two-thirds fewer CO2 emissions than “the best hybrid cars available on the market today” and that a 150km drive (starting with a full charge) will require less than 2.8 litres of fuel, giving an effective fuel economy of 1.9L/100km.

Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration is 9.0 seconds, while operating costs are said to be 80 per cent lower compared to a similar petrol-powered car when using batteries alone.

Volvo says the only extra costs will be the electricity used during charging, a process which takes three hours for a full recharge. The vehicle also uses regenerative braking to keep juice in the battery pack located in the boot.

Meanwhile, Volvo has also unveiled an integrated onboard breathalyser designed to prevent a car being started if a driver’s blood-alcohol level is over the legal limit.

The “Alcoguard” is a wireless hand-held unit that uses fuel-cell technology to ascertain the blood-alcohol level and then transmit the results via radio signal to the vehicle’s electronic control system.

If the driver is over the legal limit, the engine will not start.

Alcoguard is set to become available in Volvo cars in Europe and the US early in 2008, however, its use in Australia is still to be confirmed.

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