Volvo’s New Concept Coupe Hints At Future Plug-in Models

By · August 29, 2013

Volvo Concept Coupe />

Volvo yesterday unveiled a new plug-in hybrid concept car ahead of next week’s Frankfurt Auto Show. It's simply called the Concept Coupe. Volvo said the concept car indicates the company's plans for the future of the brand.

The Concept Coupe is the first car to make use of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture, a new chassis platform designed to offer both versatility of design and high economy over a range of power trains. It marks a move away from Volvo’s past corporate partnerships with General Motors and Ford—and toward a car which Volvo executives said is closer to the company’s roots.

Much like the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid already on sale in Europe, the Concept Coupe is a through-the-road hybrid, combining a rear-wheel drive electric motor with a front-wheel drive combustion engine setup.

As with most concept cars, details are sparse, but Volvo said combined power output from the Concept Coupe’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder supercharged turbo and electric rear-wheel drive motor is somewhere around 400 horsepower and 442 foot pounds of torque. There’s no mention of all-electric range or overall fuel economy, although given current plug-in technology from Volvo, approximately 30 miles of all-electric range would be possible.

Stylistically, the Concept Coupe harkens back to Volvo’s classic P1800 coupe. Sporty and low-slung, the Concept Coupe is a carefully-designed 2+2 grand tourer model that can operate in zero emissions mode through town, but can also travel larger distances with assistance of a powerful yet efficient gasoline engine.

Unlike many concept vehicles, the Concept Coupe has a decent chance of surviving in its current form into a production vehicle. The Concept Coupe—while promising of a sporty plug-in production vehicle—should be considered more an engineering exercise to show the versatility of Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture and its latest line of low-emissions, high mileage four-cylinder engines.

Yet, never say never. Volvo said the new platform was engineered from the beginning to work with various different drivetrains, including all-electric and plug-in hybrid options. Volvo’s first production car to use the new line of chassis and engine components will be the gas-powered 2015 XC90 crossover.

Looking further to the horizon, Volvo said the platform is built with autonomous self-driving cars in mind—potentially leading to a fully autonomous Volvo model some time around 2020. For many automakers, including Volvo, electric drivetrains and autonomous driving go hand in hand.

What does the Volvo Concept Coupe tell us? At the moment, very little. It does indicate the fact that Volvo is keen to play catchup with the rest of the plug-in auto industry by expanding its range of battery-powered cars. The pace of such an expansion—or if it happens at all—will largely depend on global mandates for lower emissions and shifting consumer trends in the automotive market.

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