Category Archives: Volvo

News and reviews of Volvo electric cars (including plug-in hybrids).

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV

New Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid review

Plug-in hybrid version of our Car of the Year hits Britain

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV

Verdict: 4 stars

The XC90 T8 is a technological showcase for Volvo, and the way it drives hasn’t been compromised at all. But like other plug-ins, you’re only going to make the most of its efficiency by charging it from the mains. While it’s a superbly refined and comfortable luxury SUV, as soon as you start using the petrol engine, economy figures plummet. If you don’t have regular access to a plug, the D5 diesel is likely to be a more efficient choice.

The Volvo XC90 has already made an impact here at Auto Express. It earned our coveted Car of the Year award last year, and it’s the first in a range of new models that the brand is launching to propel itself to the top of the luxury car market.

While Volvo is renowned for its safety features, it’s also making a concerted effort to demonstrate its eco-friendly credentials. On top of introducing more efficient diesels across the range, it’s ventured into plug-in hybrids – first with the diesel-electric V60 Plug-In estate, and now with this: the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.

The new model is based on technology from the V60, but it has been refined and updated for the SUV. Power now comes from a 320bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine, instead of the V60’s diesel, and it’s joined by an 87bhp electric motor. These combine to deliver a claimed total output of 376bhp (factoring energy losses in the drivetrain), although a rotary selector on the centre console allows you to choose how you use the energy of the petrol-electric set-up.

Read more: Auto Express

Volvo XC90 PHEV (Image: GCR)

Volvo eyes plug-in hybrid expansion

Surprised at the interest in its new plug-in XC90, Volvo could roll out more [plug-in] hybrids than planned

Plug-in hybrid tech could have more of a role to play than first expected as Volvo looks to increase UK sales from 45,000 to 60,000 in the next four years.

Volvo UK managing director Nick Connor told Auto Express that the company has been caught by surprise at the level of interest in the 390bhp T8 hybrid version of the new XC90.

“We were planning on a three-five per cent take rate of this model,” he said. “But our current rate on sold orders is over 20 per cent. We underestimated it.”

The hybrid is not due to arrive here until late this year, but demand has been so high that it is now sold out until well into 2016.

Connor added that all new Volvos launched from now will be available with hybrid tech. And the low-emissions versions could be available at all price points, rather than just at the top end of the range, as with the XC90.

A spokesperson explained:

“As with XC90 the intention is that it is kept at the upper end of each model, but if it was to be something that grows considerably, we could do it across every model.”

Read more: Auto Express

Volvo XC90 PHEV (Image: GCR)

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid First Drive

By the end of this year, there will be several luxury SUV models offered in the U.S. with plug-in hybrid powertrains that let them run 12 to 20 miles on electricity alone.

We’ve now driven one of them, the 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 “Twin Engine” model, which will go on sale this fall.

And based on our impressions of a pre-production prototype driven 96 miles through the Spanish countryside southwest of Barcelona, we think buyers will be pleased.

Volvo XC90 PHEV (Image: GCR)
2016 Volvo XC90 T8 ‘Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid, Spain, Feb 2015 (Image: GCR)

The plug-in XC90’s most immediate competitors will be plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE (nee ML) luxury crossover utility vehicles.

The big Volvo plug-in has one advantage over its near-term electrified competitors, though: It’s the only vehicle that was designed from scratch with a plug-in hybrid powertrain envisioned.

That allowed Volvo to put the battery pack not under the load bay, as the BMW and Mercedes do, but in the tunnel between the front passenger seats–meaning cargo capacity remains exactly the same as in the gasoline-only version.

That also makes it the world’s sole seven-seat plug-in hybrid SUV; the German models and also the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid all have only two rows and five seats apiece.

The lithium-ion battery pack itself has a capacity specified at 9.2 kilowatt-hours, of which 6.5 kWh is used to power the vehicle. Volvo quotes a range of 40 km (25 miles), but that’s on the European NEDC cycle. We estimate that the comparable EPA number is likely to be between 18 and 21 miles.

The complete powertrain of the XC90 T8 comprises Volvo’s 316-horsepower 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a 60-kilowatt (80-hp) electric motor driving the rear wheels.

There’s also a 34-kW (46-hp) starter-generator motor between the engine and transmission, which recharges the battery during regenerative braking or engine overrun, and can also provide additional torque to the transmission when maximum power is required.

The battery and both electric motors are liquid-cooled, and the battery coolant can also be refrigerated if additional heat must be shed.

Volvo quotes a combined power output of “about 400 horsepower,” but a precise torque figure of 472 lb-ft (compared to the 295 lb-ft produced by the non-hybrid version).

The onboard charger operates at 3.5 kilowatts and will have a North American standard J-1772 socket, though maximum amperage for the charger was quoted at 16 amps–a figure we’re double-checking with Volvo.

The company quotes a recharging time of 2.5 hours at 240 volts and 16 amps.

Read more: Green Car Reports

Tesla Model X (Image: Tesla)

Top 10 Electric Vehicles Coming Soon in 2015

Last year marked a big breakthrough for electric cars; the majority of major manufacturers invested heavily in developing electric drive-trains and subsequently added an array of appealing battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models to their rosters.

By the end of 2014 there were over 17,000 plug-in cars and vans on UK roads with that number expected to more than double by the end of this year.

As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.”

The future is only looking bright for electric mobility and there a number of exciting EV prospects expected to feature prominently this year. Below is Zap-Map’s list of top 10 electric vehicles coming soon in 2015:

1. Tesla Model X – BEV

Tesla Model X (Image: Tesla)
Tesla Model X (Image: Tesla)

Originally scheduled for 2013, Tesla recently announced that the eagerly anticipated Model X crossover will be launched in the third quarter of 2015. Despite being larger than the Model S, the all-wheel electric drive will give the Model X a similar level of performance (that’s 0 to 60 mph in around 5.9 seconds!). With 10% additional weight, the expected driving range will be slightly less; around 170 miles for the 60 kWh battery pack or 230 miles for 85 kWh battery. One the striking features of the next Tesla will be its rear ‘Falcon’ doors which open upwards instead of swinging outward. Final pricing has yet to be announced. Although it’s been a while coming, with the new Model X, Tesla is unlikely to disappoint.

2. Volkswagen twin-up! – PHEV

Volkswagen twin-up! PHEV (Image: VW)
Volkswagen twin-up! PHEV (Image: VW)

The twin-up!’s 55kW powertrain consists of a 0.8 litre TDI diesel engine working in conjunction with a 35kW electric motor. The energy storage system includes a lithium-ion battery (energy capacity: 8.6 kWh), a conventional 12V battery for on-board electrics, and a 33 litre capacity fuel tank. On the official test cycle, the twin-up! delivers a combined fuel economy of over 250 MPG with a CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km. In zero-emission operation the PHEV can cover a range of 31 miles and is anything but a slouch: the twin-up! accelerates up to 62 mph in 15.7 seconds and has an all-electric top speed of 80 mph. Pricing to be announced.

3. Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – BEV

Mercedes B Class Electric (Image: Mercedes-Benz)
Mercedes B Class Electric (Image: Mercedes-Benz)

The Mercedes-Tesla relationship is evident (and welcome) in the B-Class ED with the drive-train and battery pack coming from the California-based company. Capable of 125 miles per full charge, the B-Class ED provides electric motoring in a quality package with more reserved styling than some other brands such as the BMWi range. While the motors can deliver up to 179 bhp (Sport mode), two other driving modes are available: ‘Economy’, where power is limited to 131 bhp; and ‘Economy Plus’ with just 87 bhp and a maximum speed of 70 mph. Expected to be priced from around £27,000.

4. Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid – PHEV

Volvo XC90 PHEV (Image: Volvo)
Volvo XC90 PHEV (Image: Volvo)

No doubt encouraged by the huge success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo will bring its own plug-in SUV to market in 2015, in addition to the usual range of petrol and diesel engines. While all will offer four-wheel drive, for the first time there will also be a front-wheel drive option. The XC90 PHEV will also feature a collection of entertainment and safety technology including a 9.3 inch screen compatible with Apple’s new CarPlay interface and Volvo’s new collision avoidance system. The XC90 range is priced from £45,750.

5. Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid – PHEV

Volkswagen Passat GTE PHEV (Image: VW)
Volkswagen Passat GTE PHEV (Image: VW)

Now in its eighth incarnation, the new Passat range includes the GTE, the first Passat with a plug-in hybrid drive. Powered by a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) and an 85kW electric motor, the GTE is capable (on the official test) of over 141 MPG (petrol) and 13.0 kWh/100km (electric) with CO2 emission of under 45 g/km. On a full tank and fully recharged 9.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, the new PHEV has a total driving range of over 620 miles. In ‘E-Mode’, the Passat GTE can also cover a distance of up to 31 miles with zero emissions. AC charging options include standard (or ‘slow’) charging at 2.3 kW from a domestic socket in 4.25 hours or an optional a home 3.6 kW charger which provides a full charge in 2.5 hours. Anticipated pricing from around £20,000.

6. BMW X5 e-drive – PHEV

BMW X5 e-Drive PHEV (Image: BMW)
BMW X5 e-Drive PHEV (Image: BMW)

The BMW X5 e-drive concept was first unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show and is seen as the logical next step for the successful X5 series. Combining a four-cylinder combustion engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and lithium-ion battery, the plug-in hybrid can driver approximately 19 miles solely on electric power. There is a choice of three driving modes, depending on requirements and situation – the intelligent hybrid drive option for a balance between sportiness and efficiency; pure electric and therefore emission-free driving; or Safe Battery mode to maintain the current battery charge. According to BMW, the X5 e-drive is capable of 74.3 mpg and on average emits 90g of CO2 per kilometre. Estimated to be priced at £55,000 – £60,000, the X5 e-drive is on course to directly compete with the Volvo XC90 PHEV.

7. Renault Zoe 2015 (new battery) – BEV

Renault ZOE EV
Renault ZOE EV

Renault’s battery-electric Zoe, the second best-selling EV after the Nissan LEAF, will be revitalised by a smaller and more efficient electric motor in 2015. By reducing the motors size, Renault expects a 10% increase in the Renault Zoe’s official 130 mile range. Renault also claims the improvements will reduce charging time by 20-30 minutes when using low-level power supply such as a 3kW 3-pin slow charging unit. The upgrades to the Zoe will be added to all new models from Spring 2015 Renault say.

8. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV S – PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV-S (Image: Mitsubishi)
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV-S (Image: Mitsubishi)

Following on from the successful Outlander PHEV launch in 2014, Mitsubishi plans to release the Outlander PHEV-S. Power for the Outlander PHEV-S is expected to come from the same four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol and twin electric motor system that drives the original car. This will see up to 204bhp sent to all four wheels, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 11 seconds and a 106mph top speed, whilst offering 148mpg and emissions as low as 44g/km CO2. The main difference will be in appearance, offering a refined interior and exterior design that will magnify the Outlander PHEV’s unique driving experience. Pricing to be announced.

9. Audi Q7 Quattro plug-in hybrid – PHEV

Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro (Image: Audi)
Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro (Image: Audi)

The Audi Q7 e-tron quattro, which will be launched soon after its conventionally powered counterparts in the spring, is the first plug in hybrid from Audi with a diesel engine. It is also the world’s first diesel PHEV with quattro all-wheel drive in the premium SUV segment. It returns the equivalent of up to 166.1mpg, which corresponds to less than 50 grams of CO2 per kilometre and can travel just under 35 miles on battery-electric power alone. Pricing to be announced.

10. Peugeot Quartz – PHEV

Peugeot Quartz PHEV (Image: Peugeot)
Peugeot Quartz PHEV (Image: Peugeot)

The Quartz plug-in hybrid concept mixes elements of a crossover vehicle and a saloon, to bring a new take on the SUV segment. It uses a plug-in hybrid drive train comprising of a 1.6-litre petrol engine supplemented by two 85kW electric motors, driving each axle. When the vehicle is in ZEV mode, it utilises the electric motor only and can cover up to 31 miles on a single battery charge. Peugeot have estimated the vehicle will not reach production until 2016; it will be interesting to see if the striking design mellows between now and then.

Source: Zap-Map

Volkswagen twin-up! PHEV (Image: VW)

Top Ten 2015 Green Car – Twin-up!

The year 2015 will see the strengthening of the market for electric vehicles (EVs); both pure electric and plug-in hybrids. With over 17,000 EVs already on UK roads, Next Green Car forecasts almost 40,000 will be in use by the end of the year.

New low emission petrol and diesel models will also be launched in 2015 with a shift to petrol cars reflecting the increasing concern about air quality. While diesel vehicles can offer lower CO2 emissions, petrol units provide lower NOx and particulates which are associated with poor respiratory health in urban areas. Look out for fuel-frugal petrol two- and three-cylinder turbo engines which can now offer the driving performance of larger engines.

As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.

“If an electric car isn’t right for your driving requirements, an ever increasing choice of sub-100 gCO2/km petrol and diesel models will become available with zero car tax and high MPG. You will need to choose a conventional model wisely, however, as the official MPG figures of some brands are increasingly at odds with the real-world fuel economy data.”

To mark a year which will bring high quality, high-tech, low emission models to UK showrooms, the following ‘Top 10’ list highlights some of the most important models due for launch and delivery in 2015.

1: Volkswagen twin-up! – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: 27 g/km

Volkswagen twin-up! PHEV (Image: VW)
Volkswagen twin-up! PHEV (Image: VW)

The twin-up!’s 55kW powertrain consists of a 0.8 litre TDI diesel engine working in conjunction with a 35kW electric motor. The energy storage system includes a lithium-ion battery (energy capacity: 8.6 kWh), a conventional 12V battery for on-board electrics, and a 33 litre capacity fuel tank.

On the official test cycle, the twin-up! delivers a combined fuel economy of over 250 MPG with a CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km. In zero-emission operation the PHEV can cover a range of 31 miles and is anything but a slouch: the twin-up! accelerates up to 62 mph in 15.7 seconds and has an all-electric top speed of 80 mph. Pricing to be announced.

2: Smart fortwo 1.0 start/stop – Petrol – CO2: 93 g/km – NGC: 26

3: SKODA Fabia 1.4 TDI – Diesel – CO2: 88 g/km – NGC: 25

4: Kia Soul EV – Electric – CO2: 0 g/km – NGC: 32 (14)**

Kia Soul EV
Kia Soul EV

The new Soul EV is the result of almost 30 years of research and development into the feasibility of electric vehicles at Kia and it shows. A 27 kWh lithium-ion battery gives the Soul EV an official range of 132 miles beating everything but the Model S. As you’d expect for an electric car, the Soul EV is quiet and perfect for nipping around town. Unlike most other EVs, however, it also scores highly on the use of low impact materials including bio-degradable plastic, bio-foam and bio-fabric which are all used in the interior. Zero tail-pipe emissions mean zero London Congestion Charge and zero car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty). Priced from £24,995 the Soul EV isn’t cheap but it does come with Kia’s class-leading 7-year warranty.

 **If powered using renewable (e.g. wind, solar) electricity

5: Mazda2 1.5 SKYACTIV-D – Diesel – CO2: 89 g/km – NGC: 27

6: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – CO2: 0 g/km

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (Image: NGC)
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (Image: NGC)

The Mercedes-Tesla relationship is evident (and welcome) in the B-Class ED with the drive-train and battery pack coming from the California-based company. Capable of 125 miles per full charge, the B-Class ED provides electric motoring in a quality package with more reserved styling than some other brands such as the BMWi range. While the motors can deliver up to 179 bhp (Sport mode), two other driving modes are available: ‘Economy’, where power is limited to 131 bhp; and ‘Economy Plus’ with just 87 bhp and a maximum speed of 70 mph. Expected to be priced from around £27,000.

7: VW Passat GTE – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2:

Volkswagen Passat GTE PHEV
Volkswagen Passat GTE PHEV

Now in its eighth incarnation, the new Passat range includes the GTE, the first Passat with a plug-in hybrid drive. Powered by a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) and an 85kW electric motor, the GTE is capable (on the official test) of over 141 MPG (petrol) and 13.0 kWh/100km (electric) with CO2 emission of under 45 g/km. On a full tank and fully recharged 9.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, the new PHEV has a total driving range of over 620 miles. In ‘E-Mode’, the Passat GTE can also cover a distance of up to 31 miles with zero emissions. AC charging options include standard (or ‘slow’) charging at 2.3 kW from a domestic socket in 4.25 hours or an optional a home 3.6 kW charger which provides a full charge in 2.5 hours. Anticipated pricing from around £20,000.

8: VOLVO XC90 – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: TBC* g/km

Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid (Image: AutoExpress)
Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid

No doubt encouraged by the huge success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo will bring its own plug-in SUV to market in 2015, in addition to the usual range of petrol and diesel engines. While all will offer four-wheel drive, for the first time there will also be a front-wheel drive option. The XC90 PHEV will also feature a collection of entertainment and safety technology including a 9.3 inch screen compatible with Apple’s new CarPlay interface and Volvo’s new collision avoidance system. The XC90 range is priced from £45,750.

9: Toyota Mirai FCV – Hydrogen Fuel Cell – CO2: 0 g/km

10: Tesla Model X – Electric – CO2: 0 g/km

Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X

Originally scheduled for 2013, Tesla recently announced that the eagerly anticipated Model X crossover will be launched in the third quarter of 2015. Despite being larger than the Model S, the all-wheel electric drive will give the Model X a similar level of performance (that’s 0 to 60 mph in around 5.9 seconds!). With 10% additional weight, the expected driving range will be slightly less; around 170 miles for the 60 kWh battery pack or 230 miles for 85 kWh battery. One the striking features of the next Tesla will be its rear ‘Falcon’ doors which open upwards instead of swinging outward. Final pricing has yet to be announced. Although its been a while in coming, with the new Model X, Tesla is unlikely to disappoint.

Read more: Next Green Car

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV (Image: Volvo)

Volvo XC90 T8 hybrid runs 0-62 in 5.9 seconds

Volvo XC90 T8 hybrid runs 0-62 in 5.9 seconds, will get 59 MPGe

Volvo has shown us the new XC90. It’s even shown us its new every-trick-in-the-book twin-charged hybrid powertrain. It just hasn’t shown the two together… that is, until now.

Although the High Performance Drive-E Powertrain prototype it showcased a couple of months ago was rated as high as 450 horsepower, the production version that will power the flagship XC90 T8 has now been confirmed to produce 400 hp and 472 pound-feet of torque. That’s still pretty damn good – especially from a four-cylinder engine – and is now quoted to propel the big crossover from 0-62 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds.

That’s not bad for a four-cylinder crossover, but if you’re wondering how it stacks up against the competition – well, there isn’t much to speak of. The only other luxury three-row crossover currently on the market is the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid, which doesn’t plug in and offers only 250 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque and takes a good eight seconds to reach highway cruise. (Other luxury hybrid crossovers like the Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg, Audi Q5, Lexus RX only offer five seats.)

To match the Volvo’s performance in a Mercedes GL, for comparison’s sake, you’d have to go up to the twin-turbo V8-powered GL550, which just edges out the XC90 T8 with 429 hp, 516 lb-ft and a 5.5-second 0-60 time. (One step down, the six-cylinder twin-turbo GL450 offers significantly less with 362 hp, 369 lb-ft and a 6.6-second sprint.) But the Volvo offers pure electric mode that’ll get you 25 miles down the road before firing up the internal-combustion engine.

Gothenburg is estimating that we can expect around 59 MPGe, still to be confirmed, from the XC90 T8, but that is using the lenient European NEDC testing method. Interestingly, Volvo is also quoting an emissions figure of 59 grams of CO2 per km (NEDC), which would be roughly 92 MPGe. We’ve asked Volvo for a clarification. Either one will easily make the XC90 the cleanest crossover on the market, at least until the Tesla Model X arrives in late 2015.

Source: Autoblog

Electric Car Recharging

Is now the time to buy an electric or hybrid car?

Best cars and options explored

The future of driving appears to be electric, with Formula E in full effect, supercars adopting hybrid drive systems and range getting further all the time. Fuel powered engines may have their days numbered. But is it time to make the change to electric?

Now that the big car manufacturers are creating hybrid and electric cars we can be assured that it’s the future. And thanks to infrastructure improving all the time for charging stations range isn’t becoming such a big issue. But last year’s Tesla owners won’t get updated with the latest self-driving tech of this year’s Tesla, not a very nice reward for early adopting.

So is it still too early to adopt? Are batteries in cars suddenly going to improve to make current models a joke? We’ve looked at what going on to help give you a clearer idea of what to do.

Pure electric cars right now

The selection of pure electric cars right now isn’t huge, but it’s more than ever before and range is now good enough for day-to-day use. Prices, in the UK at least, are kept reasonable thanks to government assistance taking £5,000 off the price and offering free tax. If you offset petrol costs too you’re saving even more.

At the top end there’s Tesla with its Model S boasting all wheel drive and self-driving smarts starting at around the £50,000 mark. But this is in a league of its own with sports car performance, plus the latest model is not actually going to be in the UK until July 2015, even if you can buy yours now.

Then there are established brands like BMW, Ford, VW, Nissan and Renault all making fully electric cars at affordable prices right now.
Range, charging times, price and power

When going electric most people will be juggling these few key numbers: range, charging time, price and power.

PRICE: Firstly there’s price, at which the Renault Zoe wins by a fair margin starting at £14,000. Nissan’s Leaf can be bought from £16,500, Kia’s Soul EV is £25,000, the VW e-Golf is from £26,000, and BMW with its i3 is from £31,000.

RANGE: The range winner, from the reasonably priced cars, is the Kia Soul EV with 135 miles. In close second is the Nissan Leaf with 124 miles. Coming in behind them is the BMW i3 with a 118 mile range along with the VW e-Golf also sporting a 118 mile range, followed by the Renault Zoe with 93 miles.

Of course if you include the Tesla Model S that wins with its base model eeking out an impressive 240 miles on a charge and its top end offering 312 miles a go. But you get what you pay for.

CHARGE: This is a fairly even playing field with the cars all offering a rapid charge to 80 per cent in half an hour. Across the board it’ll cost you to upgrade your home charger for faster charging but this can result in as fast as a 3-hour charge to full.

POWER: Electric cars deliver all their torque instantly and the engine directly powers the wheels, this means they feel really nippy pulling away. The Nissan Leaf utilises 107hp to do 0-60mph in just 7 seconds making it the quickest of the lot off the mark.

The BMW i3 has 170hp for a 0-60mph time of 7.2 seconds, the Renault Zoe has 83hp for a 0-60mph time of 8 seconds, and the VW e-Golf manages 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds thanks to its 114hp motor. In last place is the Kia Soul EV with its 108bhp delivering a 0-60mph time of 10.8 seconds.

So for price the Renault Zoe wins it, but for range and power the Kia Soul EV comes out on top.

Plug-in hybrid electric cars right now

Hybrids have been around for years with the Toyota Prius leading the way with its dual-drive system. These are now more common than ever with Uber drivers using Prius as the car of choice.

But the market has grown, especially recently, with plug-in hybrids that allow drivers to charge at home so they may never need to use the fuel engine, instead reserving that for long distance journeys only.

From the Volvo V60 Plug-in and Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid to the Golf GTE or the BMW i3 with range extender, hybrids are fast becoming viable alternatives to single engine cars. The extra you may spend on the new technology can soon be made back in the petrol and tax savings they offer.

Range, charging times, price and power

Plug-in hybrid cars mean less of a worry about range than pure electric while also offering power and a reasonable price.

As with the Tesla we’re not going to include the likes of the McLaren P1, BMW i8, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LaFerrari as they’re all reserved for the super rich. And we’re only using plug-in hybrids as straight hybrids are fast becoming outdated in favour of the electric only options and extended range of plug-in hybrids.

PRICE: The plug-in hybrid range have all arrived at a similar time with manufacturers savvy to the government’s £5,000 contribution. For this reason they’re all very similarly priced.

The winner, by a narrow margin is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid from £25,000, with Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h from £28,250 in second and closely followed by the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid from £28,395.

Then we have the Vauxhall’s Ampera from £29,000, Audi A3 Sportback e-tron from £35,000, BMW i3 Range Extender from £34,000 and Volvo V60 Plug-in hybrid from £45,000.

RANGE: Winning with an impressive 967 mile range is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid but it only manages around 20 miles on electric alone. Closely behind that is the BMW i3 with range extender that offers a 930-mile top end with pure electric for 105 miles, making it overall cheaper to run than the Ford. The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid can manage up to 700 miles in one journey but loses on electric alone with just 15 miles on a charge.

Audi’s A3 Sportback e-tron can last for 585 miles with 31 of those miles on electric alone. Despite its size the Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h manages 500 miles with 32 on electric alone. Vauxhall’s Ampera eeks out 310 miles with between 20 and 50 of those miles on battery.

CHARGE: As in pure electric cars this is a fairly even playing field with the cars all offering a rapid charge to 80 per cent in half an hour. Across the board it’ll cost you to upgrade your home charger for faster charging but this can result in as fast as a 3-hour charge to full.

POWER: The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, as the name suggests, wins this with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds thanks to 204hp. The BMW i3 Range Extender model is second offering 170hp for 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds.

The Vauxhall Ampera does 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds with 148hp, despite having 178hp the Ford takes 9.2 seconds to get from 0-62mph, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid gets from 0-60mph in 11 seconds from 134hp, the Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h does 0-60mph in 11 seconds and has 186hp.

The winner for price is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid but the BMW i3 takes it for range with the Audi offering the most power.

Future electric and hybrid cars

The future of electric cars and hybrid machines is looking positive. Charging infrastructure is cropping up all over the country with Tesla’s Elon Musk promising to install his Supercharger network UK wide by the end of next year.

Crucially, right now, it’s possible to drive pure electric all the way from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England thanks to fast chargers along the way. It might take a little longer than petrol cars since you have to stop for half an hour to recharge, but it won’t cost as much by a long shot. So adopting right now, especially if you’re going for a hybrid, isn’t as risky as it once was.

Another issue is batteries. Developments are being made more and more regularly as car manufacturers pour money into research. But worrying about having an older battery shouldn’t be an issue as, hopefully, manufacturers will be able to swap out old for new future-proofing any car you buy now.

Next year Tesla hopes to offer a car which is nearly completely self-driving. But since that’s out of the price range of most people current electric car offerings are plenty futuristic.

If you’re already driving a car and the cost of petrol and tax are proving too much then electric or hybrid could be your way out.

Source: Pocket Lint

The V60 Plug-In Hybrid features a 2.4-litre diesel engine and an electric motor (Image: Autocar)

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid first drive review

What is it?

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid sports a 212bhp 2.4-litre turbodiesel driving the front wheels and a 69bhp electric motor driving the rears. It can travel up to 31 miles in pure electric mode.

In Ehybrid mode, the diesel and electric motors combine to deliver the most efficient progress. Or if you’re feeling a bit frisky, select Epower mode and the diesel and electric motors deliver everything they’ve got in the name of performance.

In hybrid or even pure electric mode, if your right foot demands more power than the battery can deliver on its own, the diesel fires up. However, if you treat the throttle as though there’s a hand grenade trapped under it, you can actually top out at 78mph on electricity alone.

What is it like?

Volvo has done a great job of improving the V60’s refinement, which was reportedly a bit rough in earlier prototypes. Now, the transition between pure electric motoring and diesel fire-up is almost imperceptible.

The official fuel economy figure is 155.2mpg. Volvo isn’t for one moment suggesting that the average buyer will get that in the real world, although if you do an inner-city commute of less than 30 miles a day you might be able to get a pretty amazing return. I got 32.7mpg during my time with the V60, which included some very hard miles (not real-world, either), so that’s actually better than it looks. For the record, 0-60mph takes 5.8sec.

Less good is the V60’s ride quality. Very firmly suspended and riding on low-resistance tyres with stiff sidewalls, the V60’s ride around town is just too harsh over broken surfaces.

Power mode is good fun, but the V60 Hybrid’s extra 250kg compared with the non-hybrid equivalent makes itself felt during fast changes of direction; it’s like having two Johnny Vegases in the car with you. The handling balance does feel surprisingly neutral, though, and the hybrid V60’s weight distribution of 55 per cent front and 45 per cent rear is actually better than the regular car’s.

Should I buy one?

So does this rather special V60 make sense? Well, leaving apart the poor ride quality, even Volvo management admits that if you do a highish mileage this isn’t the car for you. On a long motorway run, you’re basically driving a diesel Volvo with a bit of a weight problem.

But if you have that short city commute, travel into central London (no congestion charge) and like the sound of low benefit-in-kind charges, it’s possible that the V60 could work for you.

However, for the vast majority of us that probably won’t be the case, and even after the £5000 Plug-in Car Grant this is still a £43,775 car – nearly £5000 more than the most expensive non-hybrid D5 V60. That’s reason enough to explain Volvo’s cautious forecast of just 150 sales this year.

Source: Autocar 2013

Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid (Image: AutoExpress)

New 2015 Volvo XC90 revealed in Paris

The all-new Volvo XC90 has made its Paris Motor Show debut.

The first Volvo XC90 was launched way back in 2002, but now Volvo has finally taken the wraps off the all-new XC90 model. The large premium SUV is due on sale in the UK in spring 2015 with a starting price of £45,785 for the D5 AWD Momentum model.

On display at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the second-generation SUV is dripping with the Swedish manufacturer’s technological know-how and will become of one the safest, most hi-tech and most economical SUVs on the market when first customer deliveries begin in April.

With longer, taller and lower dimensions than the current model, the new Volvo XC90 will be the first all-new car to emerge under the brand’s current Chinese ownership. It faces off against rival premium SUVs like the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and Mercedes M-Class.

A new 390bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain will also be offered in the XC90, which combines the 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. Despite being the most powerful variant it’s also the most efficient thanks to CO2 emission of only 60g/km. Its closest rival, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, only manages 79g/km.

Read more: Auto Express

2015 Volvo XC90 at Paris Motor Show

2015 Volvo XC90 T8 TwinEngine Plug-in

The most important new Volvo in quite some time has made its first auto show appearance, with the second-generation XC90 debuting at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

The new XC90 remains a three-row crossover for 2015, although it ditches the first-gen model’s top-end, turbocharged six-cylinder in favor of a single twin-charged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. By pairing that with a plug-in-electric powertrain, the king of the XC90 range, the T8 TwinEngine, will offer up 400 horsepower. So yeah, performance should be brisk.

Also appearing on 2015 XC90 will be an entirely new, Apple CarPlay-compatible infotainment system with a big, vertical touchscreen display at its heart. Based on the videos we’ve seen, the new system looks responsive, feature-laden and quite attractive.

See more: Autoblog