BMW 3-series plug-in prototype (Expected in 2016)

June 4th, 2015 § Comments Off on BMW 3-series plug-in prototype (Expected in 2016) § permalink

A plug-in hybrid BMW 3-series has been on the drawing board for some time but since the company’s powertrain engineers have had their hands really rather full with the likes of the i3 andi8 they can be forgiven for a delay in plug-in BMWs becoming reality.

Now set to reach the market in 2016 under the likely badge of a BMW 3-series eDrive, tested here is a relatively far-down-the-line prototype. We drove it at BMW’s Miramas proving ground in France.

BMW 3 series PHEV Plugin Hybrid Prototype. Production expected in 2016. Via

BMW 3 series PHEV Plugin Hybrid Prototype. Production expected in 2016. Via

BMW 3 series PHEV Plugin Hybrid Prototype. Production expected in 2016. Via

BMW 3 series PHEV Plugin Hybrid Prototype. Production expected in 2016. Via

BMW 3 series PHEV Plugin Hybrid Prototype. Production expected in 2016. Via

What’s powering the BMW 3-series hybrid?

The conventional engine bit is a familiar four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit (diesels don’t feature in BMW’s plug-in plans for now) with around 180bhp, sending its power rearward via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. In line with the latter is an electric motor generating a little over 95bhp and 184lb ft.

Under the 3-series’ boot floor is a lithium-ion battery pack and a refrigeration pack to keep it cool, packaged well enough to avoid losing usable boot space. The various pieces of the drivetrain puzzle talk to each other via power electronics derived from the i3 and i8 projects’.

Pre-charge the battery through the socket in the left front wing and the zero-emissions electric range in an eDrive BMW is approximately 22 miles. This is important, says the car’s project director Helmuth Wiesler, as ‘most of our customers don’t drive more than 30km (18.6 miles) a day with their vehicles.’

To increase the electric range would mean more weight and more cost, he says, and ‘more than 80% of our customers wouldn’t use the extra range.’ In theory, then, most owners could run the car for weeks without waking the combustion engine.

Why the camouflage on the 3-series eDrive?

By the time the plug-in lands, the current F30-generation 3-series will have been through a mid-life facelift, with a spot of cosmetic surgery front and rear. Hence the swirly stickers, although with X-ray specs donned they appear to be there to underline the fact that this particular car is a future model rather than to mask any secret new styling.

The only visual clue in the interior that this is a part-electric 3-series (apart from the laptop-clutching engineer in our test car’s passenger seat) is the ‘eDrive’ switch next to the gearlever.

BMW 3-series plug-in driving modes explained

Pay attention 007. Like most plug-ins, there’s a collection of driving modes to get to grips with in the new 2016 hybrid 3-series.

Default setting is ‘Auto eDrive’, whereby it’ll stick to electric power until the car reaches 50mph, or you give the throttle pedal a healthy prod, at which point the engine chimes in.

Poking the eDrive button activates ‘Max eDrive’ mode, where the engine won’t butt in for up to an hour, or until 75mph is reached. If you need an extra turn of speed, when filtering onto a slip road for example, pushing the throttle past the kickdown stop brings the engine back into play smartly.

Double-press the same switch for Battery Save mode, preventing the battery from dropping below 50% charge (or if it’s below that level, topping it back up) and ensuring a minimum of four to 12 miles of electric-only driving. Worth a press if you know you’re on the way to an urban area and want to make the most of the electric motor when you get there.

Naturally there’s also a Sport mode, at which point the motor uses its instant torque delivery to give the engine a leg up.

Like the Mercedes S-class plug-in we’ve also sampled recently, the drivetrain can talk to the sat-nav so if a hilly route’s programmed, it’ll use as much of the batteries’ energy as possible on uphill sections because it knows they can be recharged on the way down.

What’s it like to drive?

Smooth. In electric mode the power delivery is quite heavily damped (if anything it wouldn’t suffer from being a bit more abrupt for a smarter take-off) and when the engine cuts in it does so without much of a jolt.

Even so, that’s something that can still be improved, electric powertrain engineer Stefan Prasser tells us from the passenger seat, ‘but that’s software, that’s calibration.’ More effective energy regeneration under deceleration is also on the to-do list before the car’s launch in 2016, he says. No matter how many Post-its are on his desk, the prototype we drove felt well-resolved.

Best news is that it still drives like a 3-series. Weight distribution remains near 50:50 (48% front, 52% rear – similar to a 3-series Touring estate), so it has the same nicely balanced handling. When it’s mustering the last drop of energy from the powertrain in Sport mode it makes quick progress around the Miramas handling course. It doesn’t feel standout rapid by any means, but it’s quick enough.


When the BMW 3-series eDrive does arrive, we’re told it won’t be subject to a price premium over the rest of the model range. Adjusted for equipment, it’s planned to be priced at a similar level to the 328i, which at the moment starts below £30k.

With that in mind, and given that the regular car’s handling and practicality have survived intact, it seems the BMW 3-series plug-in has plenty to bring to the party. Never mind that it’ll show up a little late.

There are more plug-in hybrid BMWs on the way – read Georg Kacher’s news of the 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in here.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid due in 2015 (20 Miles Max EV Range)

June 4th, 2015 § Comments Off on Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid due in 2015 (20 Miles Max EV Range) § permalink

There are a few particular stats concerning the new Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid that grab your attention when skimming the spec sheet. Namely, combined fuel consumption of 100.9mpg, CO2 emissions of 65g/km and 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds.

They’re not a misprint – this is the greenest S-class yet, with a 3.0-litre petrol-fuelled V6 joined by a 114bhp electric motor taking its energy from a big lithium-ion battery pack in the boot. It’s also the first of a raft of new plug-in Mercs, with 10 further hybrids planned by 2017.

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Hold on. Aren’t there hybrid versions of the Mercedes S-class already?

Yes, the petrol-electric S400 and the diesel-electric S300 BlueTec. In their case, though, the electric motor’s job is more to take the edge off the combustion engine’s consumption and augment its performance than provide much in the way of meaningful zero-emissions mileage.

The S500 Plug-in Hybrid can manage far more than a bit of low-speed gliding around car parks. A much bigger battery pack (and the ability to plug it into the mains or a faster wallbox charger to pre-charge it) means it can manage up to 20 miles on electric power alone before the petrol engine kicks in. That said, on our initial 11-mile drive at low speeds through city streets the V6 whirred into life just around the corner from our destination.

Charging takes around two hours at a wallbox or between two hours 45 minutes and four hours through the mains, via a socket in the rear bumper.

What’s the Mercedes S500 Plug-in like to drive?

Just as imperious as the non-hybrid limo models, but with the added serenity of near-silence when running in electric mode.

There are occasionally a few more noticeable clunks and shunts from the seven-speed transmission than you might ideally like but otherwise this is as refined as luxury travel gets. Adaptive air suspension ensures ride quality is suitably smooth and when you touch the brake pedal the system does a decent job of overlapping the mechanical brakes and electric motor deceleration unobtrusively.

For what it’s worth, this car is jolly fast too: when both the electric motor and the V6 put their heads together there’s a total of 436bhp and enough performance for enthusiastic chauffeurs to pin their passengers far into the S-class’s cushioned head rests.

There are four driving modes to choose from: E-mode (electric power only), E-save (uses as little battery power as possible), Charge (charges the battery as you drive) and Hybrid (the default mode, which does a little of everything).

Mercedes S500 Plug-in technology highlights

Being an S-Class, it’s rammed with clever and complicated tech. A party piece Mercedes seems particularly proud of is the car’s ability to turn the local topography to its advantage; for example, if you’ve programmed a hilly route into the sat-nav the S500 will use the electric motor to help the car uphill and flatten the battery as much as possible so it can recharge on the way down. Equally, the system will make sure you get to urban areas with as much charge as possible so you can make the most of the electric motor.

There’s also a ‘haptic accelerator pedal’. If you’ve set the transmission to Economy+ mode, on downhill stretches or when following traffic a series of pulses through the throttle pedal tells you that you should really take your foot off the gas to allow the drivetrain to coast or regenerate energy. That’s right, the hybrid S-Class is sentient to the point where it will essentially chide you for tailgating.

You can also set the interior temperature before you climb in via your smartphone, which can be linked to the climate control and heated seats, steering wheel and armrest. The app will even tell you how much charge is left in the battery from the comfort of your front room.

Any downsides?

A sizeable chunk of boot space is lost to a doorstep-shaped ledge that covers the big battery pack and the plug-in S-class is available in long-wheelbase form only – but it’s otherwise identical to any other model in the range. It does carry a more heavyweight price tag though, at around £17,000 more than an S350 BlueTec diesel.

The jury’s out on the exact extent you’d be saving the planet by choosing the plug-in. That spec sheet-dominating 65g/km CO2 figure owes a little to the rather generous way hybrids’ emissions are calculated by the EU (the electric-only range is carried wholesale into the calculations), since the engine generates 149g/km of CO2.

On a separate note, the twin-screen S-Class dashboard is beginning to look a little dated already – maybe Merc has a more elegant instrument panel in the pipeline for when facelift time rolls around.


You’d hesitate to call it ‘green’ wholeheartedly, but the Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-in’s efficiency figures are undeniably impressive. For buyers with largely city-based driving habits and access to charging infrastructure, it’s arguably the pick of the range.

Most buyers will forgo the faffing with power cables and plump for the more affordable S350 diesel, though. The S500 Plug-in is expected to make up around 3-5% of S-class sales in the UK.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Mercedes C 350 (Max 20 Miles EV Range) Plug-in Hybrid Coming Soon

June 4th, 2015 § Comments Off on Mercedes C 350 (Max 20 Miles EV Range) Plug-in Hybrid Coming Soon § permalink

Mercedes has revealed images and details of its C 350 Plug-in Hybrid, which aims to help the manufacturer meet stringent EU emissions targets across the range.

The C 350 is the second hybrid in the C-Class range following on from the C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, which was shortlisted for our best hybrid car award in 2014. The model will be available as both a saloon and an estate, and hopes to become one of the most efficient cars in its class.

Based on appearances, there is little to tell the Plug-in Hybrid apart from regular C-Class variants: the same smart styling remains inside and out. The only subtle tweaks come courtesy of some Hybrid badging and an updated instrument cluster inside.

So the powertrain is the interesting part then?

Yes, there’s a whole heap of clever stuff going on under the skin. Power comes courtesy of a 211hp, 2.1-litre turbocharged petrol engine complimented by a 60kW electric motor. In total, this endows the C 350 with a total output of 279hp and 443lb ft. The car can run on electric power alone for up to 19 miles, which with the help of a special wall box or a public charging point, can be recharged in about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Additional mileage is eked out thanks to regenerative braking, which uses wasted energy from braking and coasting to top up the batteries. This is achieved by the electric motor replacing the brakes during gentle deceleration.

The C 350 features an interesting piece of tech to help the driver to get the most out of the efficient drivetrain. The throttle pedal features haptic feedback, which sends a pulse through the pedal when it suggests you can back off the power to increase economy. It even combines with the radar-guided cruise control to allow you to come to halt in traffic in the most efficient way. Four separate driving modes can be selected for the drivetrain to make the best use of the battery’s charge in a variety of situations.

It gets even cleverer. To make the best use of the batteries, the C 350 can anticipate how to best use the energy systems over a given route, as long as your journey has first been programmed into the satellite navigation system.

The headline figures for all this wizardry? A claimed fuel consumption of 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 48g/km (49 grams for the estate version). Despite this economy, the saloon can still sprint from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, while the estate is 0.3 seconds behind. That’s the future right there.

Anything else I should know?

Mercedes say the batteries add around 100 kilograms to the overall weight. More of a concern for buyers is likely to be that they rob the C-Class of boot space. The saloon has had boot volume reduced to 335 litres and the estate is barely any better at 350. At least you’ll always be comfortable once inside. Thanks to Pre-Entry climate control, the C 350’s interior temperature can be pre-set before you get in via an internet-based system. Meanwhile, the standard air suspension should keep the ride nice and smooth for driver and passengers.

How much will it cost?

The exact prices and specifications have yet to be announced, while order books are due to open in summer 2016. A bit of a wait, but it should be worth it for what promises to be a swift, economical and beautifully made car.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Chris Knapman takes a bite out of the Big Apple with the new yellow Nissan taxi that’s eyeing up London

December 16th, 2014 § Comments Off on Chris Knapman takes a bite out of the Big Apple with the new yellow Nissan taxi that’s eyeing up London § permalink

I knew what I wanted from a New York taxi, and this small SUV wasn’t it. “Where are all the Crown Victorias, with their V8 engines and sloppy suspension?” I asked my wife. If sharing my concern, she was doing a good job of hiding it.
The crummy Ford seemed fundamentally ill-suited to life as a taxi, with its small boot and almost total absence of space for passengers. It was also slow, noisy and rode like a sideboard being pushed down a staircase.

Nissan eNV200 Nissan eNV200 We were therefore more selective when time came to hail our second taxi of the trip. To the untrained eye, the Nissan we selected was just another bland yellow box, roaming the streets in search of paying occupants. But there was actually more to it, I told Mrs K. It was in fact (I used my fingers as inverted commas at this point) the “Taxi of Tomorrow”.
“And what does that mean?” she said, using mock inverted commas of her own.
Shrugging off the sarcasm, I explained how the Mexican-built NV200 was the replacement for the ageing New York yellow taxi fleet, and how, as a result, this seemingly innocuous vehicle has caused a lot of controversy. In addition to the issue of pushing drivers towards a one-size-fits-all vehicle, there were complaints from the Greater New York Taxi Association about the NV200’s restricted wheelchair access and lack of a hybrid drivetrain to cut emissions.

As a result, New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow initiative has been on and off like the light atop the Nissan’s roof. But in June this year the deal was finally put back on track, and as a result the plan at present is for more than 26,000 of these converted vans to hit NY over the next decade, helping to provide transportation for the 600,000 people who ride in a cab every single day. And do you know, I think they’re going to like it.
For a start, being based on a van means the boot is enormous. And while there’s only seating for three on the back bench (a fourth person can travel in the front), the sliding doors mean access is easy. The interior is refreshingly airy, with room to move your legs and – nice touch this – a glass roof through which you can admire the city’s skyscrapers.
From what I could tell, the petrol engine had just enough oomph to pull the little van along at the modest speeds New York traffic allows, and the CVT gearbox seemed well-suited to the stop-and-start conditions. A small panel containing USB ports so that passengers may charge their phones is an inspired touch, as is the “low annoyance horn”, which emits a quiet honk accompanied by a light.
If that all sounds like fun, an officially licenced London version of the NV200 taxi, with a comedy black cab-esque nose grafted on, was due to arrive this month – right up until Mayor Boris Johnson proposed that all new taxis registered in London should be zero emissions by 2018. Wary of rolling out lots of shiny new petrol cars that could be redundant in three years’ time should the legislation go ahead, Nissan has put a hold on the project.
Not for the first time, the Taxi of Tomorrow is at the mercy of the bureaucracy of today.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Plugin hybrid Test Drive. #phev #plugin

July 3rd, 2014 § Comments Off on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Plugin hybrid Test Drive. #phev #plugin § permalink

It’s roomy.
30miles EV Range per full charge.
What’s so special?
2.0L petrol engine with 30mile Battery pack are rumoured to give you near 80-90miles a gallon city real driving use.
You pay £0 road tax.
You have all wheel drive.
You have free London congestion access.
You still have free parking around Westminster!

Not too shabby.
No 7-seater combination unlike pure diesel/petrol versions due to electric motors being mounted at the back. See photo. Decent boot.

What’s special about charging options? Well, a Standard 10A+16A fast charging feature AND…. Behold Rapid charging connector.
You can charge up this tiny battery at #DCRC location like Ecotricity under 10minutes!

More coming soon!










Still The Cheapest Electric Car Lease: Nissan Leaf Acenta (2014 & premium trim) Deal

June 25th, 2014 § Comments Off on Still The Cheapest Electric Car Lease: Nissan Leaf Acenta (2014 & premium trim) Deal § permalink

The on-going search for the “best-priced” Electric Car continues.

I do mean a “car”, since Twizy does not quality for this purpose, nor Gwizz. This means SatNav, Reverse Camera, confy seats, big boot and so on. you can look up more details on the specification here.

Nissan Leaf Acenta(and Tekna) offer you the best of heating efficiency – resulting in theoretical 130mileage per single charge. On road tests in Oslo, Norway, Top Trim Tekna model performed nicely with 109 real-life-miles.

This would fare about the same in this Acenta model. We’re not in oslo, but real-life mileage over 100miles on the single charge is a very welcome FYI.

I have spent a good deal talking to dealerships, and googling the offers and deals.

Nissan Leaf Acenta 10k/annum (Same offer with 10K mileage/year is as follows.)

10K/Annum mileage on 3+35 non-maintained Contract at £301/month!

Total Contract Mileage Excess Mileage Charge CO2 Combined Fuel Economy
30000 4.2p + VAT per mile 0 g/km 0

Payment Profile: 3 + 35
Deposit Payable in Advance: £903.10
Admin Fee Payable With Deposit: £180
Followed By: 35 Payments: £301.03

All payments above include VAT

Delivery Information: Free delivery to your address – Mainland UK

Essentially mileage does not make much difference, however if you consider making 20k/annum mileage, it would cost you a fraction of the cost. Doing the math, with 10k/annum deal + 10k over the top. this would cost £48 odd/month for excess 1k mileage a month, which now totals at 2k/month.

Not too bad, i’d say. How much would that cost you in a Petrol equivalent at avg 40-45Mpg combined? Find out on our Fuel Calculator/Comparison Tool.


Finally, if you do LIKE, Just fill the Contact form for the Dealer to get in touch with you.


Healthy 30% increase: Demand for Electric Nissan Leaf increases #ev #electricCar

April 17th, 2014 § Comments Off on Healthy 30% increase: Demand for Electric Nissan Leaf increases #ev #electricCar § permalink

Nissan has reported 30% increase in fleet sales in the last financial year as demand for all electric Nissan Leaf surges to new heights. Sales of the all electric Leaf have increased by a whopping 132%. Nissan GB corporate sales director Barry Beeston said “the 2013 financial year has been prosperous for our corporate sales with electric vehicles in particular proving to be an increasingly viable option for fleet operators.”

There are three trim levels available to UK buyers the Visia, Acenta and Tekna. All the Leaf models have increased boot space because of the relocation of the charging point and an enhanced interior trim. Some of the new improvements include a height adjust facility on both front seats and more foot space for passengers.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Nissan turns over a new LEAF: Japanese manufacturer unveils its redesigned electric car which promises to end ‘range anxiety’

March 6th, 2013 § Comments Off on Nissan turns over a new LEAF: Japanese manufacturer unveils its redesigned electric car which promises to end ‘range anxiety’ § permalink

By Ray Massey,

Nissan has given its electric LEAF a major make-over – with more than 100 significant upgrades – just ahead of it being built for the first time in Britain.

As part of the nip-and-tuck face-lift, the Japanese car-maker has increased its range, spruced up its interior and cut its price.

The moves come as the second-generation of the zero-emissions car – which can be charged from home socket or from a public on-street charging point – prepares for the first time to roll off the production line of Nissan’s Sunderland factory in June.

Eco chic: The sleek new Nissan LEAF has plenty of space and handles like a dream

After its debut at next week’s Geneva Motor Show, the freshly turned LEAF is also expected to be one of the stars at the Future Drive Motor Show for which Mailonline, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are the headline media partners when it runs at London’s ExCeL from Sunday May 5 to Sunday May 12 inclusive.

The 100-plus changes have been made to make the new LEAF more user-friendly following feedback from pioneering early owners.

Some 50,000 have been sold worldwide since launch in 2011. The new version will more comfortable, roomier, better to drive and able to go father and charge in half the time, says Nissan.

It also aims to reduce the main concern of many potential buyers of electric cars – so-called ‘range anxiety’ – or fear it may run out of juice and leave the driver stranded.

So the new LEAF’s driving range has been boosted from 109 miles to 124 miles and a new heat pump helps this by reducing electrical consumption in cold weather.

Luggage space has been improved by re-positioning the charger under the bonnet. And an optional Quick Charger cuts re-charging time from eight hours to four hours.

Spacious: The new look LEAF has extra leg room and a whopping 370 litres of boot space

Jobs for the boys: The new look LEAF will be made at Nissan##Q##s Sunderland plant

The chassis has been re-engineered to give better handling and driving pleasure on UK and Continental roads.

Subtle styling changes have been made to the nose of the car and front grille to improve its aerodynamic efficiency.

There are now three trim levels – a cheaper entry-level Visia costing closer to £20,000 including the £5,000 taxpayer subsidy, Acenta and the top-spec Tekna with 17 inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a Bose sound system and an ##Q##Around View Monitor##Q## parking aid.

The new LEAF also offers more driving modes, more colour choices, more supportive seats, a clearer sat-nav, new ##Q##environmentally friendly##Q## seat fabrics but also a choice of leather trim.

The 48-module compact lithium-ion batteries are mounted underneath the cabin area to lower the centre of gravity for optimum handling.

And overall boot capacity has increased to a massive 370 litres after moving the charger.

A spokesman said: ##Q##By moving the charger from the rear of the LEAF to under the bonnet it has been possible to increase the luggage area by as much as 40 litres – or about the size of a typical airplane ##Q##carry-on##Q## suit-case. There is now no obstacle in the middle of the boot floor when the seats are folded.##Q##

Going the distance: The 48 lithium-ion modules can hold enough juice to make range anxiety a thing of the past

Re-shaped cushions mean more rear legroom. Steering has been given more ##Q##weight##Q## to provide a more substantial feel more in tune with UK and European tastes.

Brake performance has been improved and the ##Q##green##Q## eco-driving mode has been updated. A new LED inspection light means drivers no longer have to rely on street lighting when charging their cars at night.

Standard safety equipment includes front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock ABS brakes and brake assistance along with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

A Nissan spokesman said: ##Q##The new Nissan LEAF has arrived – and it has a longer range, is more practical, better to drive and has even more equipment.##Q##

##Q##Improvements include an extended driving range, greater recyclability, more interior space, better charging performance, more equipment and, with three versions now available, greater choice.##Q##

It will be produced in Sunderland alongside the conventionally-powered Qashqai, Note and Juke models. The high-tech lithium-ion batteries which store charge to power the LEAF are already being produced at a new facility nearby.

Paul Willcox, Nissan Europe’s senior vice president for sales and marketing said: ##Q##LEAF owners are passionate about their cars and their comments and experiences have genuinely influenced many of the changes we have made.##Q##

He added: ##Q##The Nissan LEAF has shown that electric vehicles offer viable everyday transport for people with a typical daily commute.

##Q##With an ever-expanding network of Quick Chargers linking cities across Britain and Europe and improvements we have made to battery life and LEAF##Q##s drivetrain, the traditional ##Q##range anxiety##Q## issue put forward by some of the nay-sayers as a reason not to go electric will soon be a non-starter.##Q##

Nissan’s Sunderland plant, which employs 5,400 people, has built more than 6.4 million cars since it opened in 1986 with 80 per cent of production exported to 97 markets worldwide, with total investment topping £3.3billion.

Nissan##Q##s European Design Centre is based in Paddington, London and employs around 50 people, while the its European Technical Centre is based in Cranfield, Bedfordshire and employs around 500 people.

The Future Drive Motor Show takes place at ExCeL London from May 5th- 12th 2013. Tickets are priced from £12 in advance and children under 15 are free. More details can be found at Book your tickets at

Too good to not* mention: Volvo Plugin (#ev hybrid) V60 – 49g/km CO2 and nearly 150mpg in Hybrid, while Power can deliver 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds!

December 7th, 2012 § Comments Off on Too good to not* mention: Volvo Plugin (#ev hybrid) V60 – 49g/km CO2 and nearly 150mpg in Hybrid, while Power can deliver 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds! § permalink

Electric Diesel Hybrid V60. (alas not world##Q##s first then? (DS5)

WhatCar Reports: This may look like an ordinary Volvo V60, but it hides a remarkable secret. Look carefully, and beyond the unusual wheels and D6 boot badge you’ll see the inscription Plug-in Hybrid discretely added to the exterior. This is the world’s first diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, and it claims spectacular economy and emissions in combination with feisty performance.

 It’s no pie in the (blue) sky intellectual project, either: the V60 Plug-in Hybrid actually goes into production in November next year. The initial run will be limited to 1,000 highly specified examples, of which the UK will receive just 130. After that, however, it becomes a regular series production model, available in a range of trim levels, built on the same factory line as every other V60.

We’ve been granted rare early access to the car at Volvo’s test track in Gothenburg, Sweden, as well as an insight into the development of what Volvo says will be a world leading car. Despite being based on its very latest model, the Plug-in Hybrid is such a complex affair the engineering process is akin to building a brand new vehicle from scratch.

This is because it effectively has two separate drivetrains that have to work in harmony. Under the bonnet is the familiar 2.4-litre D5 turbodiesel engine, which drives the front wheels in a conventional manner.

At the back, however, is an ERAD – that’s Electric Rear Axle Drive, an electric motor powering the rear wheels – and under the boot floor a large lithium ion battery pack. This holds enough juice to propel the V60 on electricity alone for up to a claimed 30 miles, and is plugged into the mains to charge. Hence the name.

Brought together, the electric motor and the diesel engine can deliver exceptional mpg or considerable all-wheel drive acceleration.

Sub-50g/km CO2 emissions and almost 150mpg is being claimed

What’s it up against?

There are no direct rivals. Toyota is building a plug-in version of the Prius, but that’s a smaller car and uses a petrol engine, while the only other diesel electric alternative is currently the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4, but that has a tiny battery range.

Why buy one?

As with the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera range extenders, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid aims to bridge the gap between the internal combustion engine and the true all-electric car. Volvo’s approach is actually more complex, but therefore also more flexible.

It aims to offer you the Holy Grail of increased performance with massively reduced emissions. There are three driving modes: Pure, Hybrid and Power. It’s no accident they’re laid out in that order, as in addition to the electric-only Pure capability, Volvo claims an astonishing 49g/km CO2 and nearly 150mpg in Hybrid, while Power can deliver 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds.

If you’re a company car driver Benefit in Kind tax will be just over £80 a month. Annual road tax will be £0. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid is also eligible for the government electric car grant, which should knock £5,000 off the asking price.

Initially it will be aimed at ‘early adopters’ – people who want the very latest technology, regardless of price. There is nothing else quite like it.

Volvo V60 Plug-In HybridThree driving modes let you tailor the electric involvement

What’s its Achilles’ heel?

The limited early supply means many UK buyers won’t be able to get their hands on one until 2013, which is a shame, and that’s assuming they aren’t put off by the price. We, however, think that’s fair at this point for the kind of car you’re getting.

The batteries and electric motor drive do add nearly 300kg in extra weight, at the wrong end of the car, and slightly compromise the boot space – while charging the thing remains more than the work of a moment. But having the diesel engine as well means there is none of the range anxiety you get with full electric vehicles.

It##Q##s a far chunk more expensive than the standard V60, too. In fact, it##Q##s more than double the price of the entry-level V60 (before you apply the £5,000 government grant to the hybrid).

How much will it cost?

Prices are set to start from £47,000. That is before any government grant discount, which will reduce the price to £42,000.

When can I buy one?

Dealers will start taking orders in 2012, but you may well have to wait until 2013 for delivery.

Pluging Hybrid update: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in: 15Miles EV mode :S

December 5th, 2012 § Comments Off on Pluging Hybrid update: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in: 15Miles EV mode :S § permalink

The Toyota Prius Plug-in, as its name suggests, is a version of the Toyota Prius hybrid with a larger battery that you can plug into the mains.

A full charge takes 90 minutes and gives the car a range of around 15.5 miles in electric-only mode, at speeds of up to 51mph.

By contrast, the regular Prius struggles to do two miles at crawling pace before it needs help from its petrol engine.

Toyota reckons each full charge should cost you 50 pence, and 769 miles is possible on a full fuel tank and battery.

Claimed fuel economy is up from the 72.4mpg managed by the regular Prius to 134.5mpg, and CO2 emissions are an impressive 49g/km – 43g/km less than the standard hybrid car.

What##Q##s the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in like to drive?
Performance is reasonably sprightly in all driving modes, because the electric motor##Q##s maximum torque is available from rest, and all you ever hear from it is a distant whir.

Toyota Prius review
Electric motor provides instant torque

Sadly, things are less impressive when the 1.8-litre engine kicks in. The engine is always audible, particularly on the motorway where it becomes a nuisance.

However, the fact that the engine is running does mean electric power is preserved for town use, where it##Q##s of most benefit.

Even when the batteries have run down, they always retain enough of a charge to let you pull away smoothly on electric power.

The Plug-in weighs just 50kg more than the standard Prius, so in other respects it drives pretty much identically.

On the up side, that means there##Q##s decent grip, but the steering is vague and the regenerative brakes mean a stiff pedal which takes some getting used to.

The suspension set up has received only minor tweaks for the Plug-in model. Unfortunately, the Prius Plug-in has a harsh ride that unsettles the car on rough and uneven surfaces.

What##Q##s the 2012 Prius Plug-in like inside?
The cabin is almost identical to the regular Prius##Q##s, which means it feels solid, but features too many hard, grey plastics.

Toyota Prius review
Excellent digital display

A huge digital display on the dashboard gives you masses of information – everything from how much fuel you##Q##ve got to how the drivetrain is working – and is impressively clear for something so complex.

The hybrid mechanicals are well packaged, leaving space for five adults and a decent boot. In fact, only two litres of boot space have been lost in the conversion from the regular model leaving 443 litres. That##Q##s 123 litres more than aChevrolet Volt.

The Plug-in is intended as a range-topping model and the list of standard equipment reflects that. The long list includes satellite-navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a reversing camera (useful, because there##Q##s a spoiler across the rear screen).

Toyota Prius review
Full charge should cost you 50p, estimates Toyota

Should I buy one?
The Prius Plug-in is going to be hard to justify as a private buy; even with the maximum £5000 Government grant, it costs almost £8000 more than our favourite version of the regular Prius.

However, if you##Q##re a company car driver who does a lot of short journeys, then it starts to make sense. It attracts a lowly 5% company car tax rating (the regular Prius is taxed at 10%) and could save you a fortune in fuel bills.

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