A couple of weeks ago I followed a crowd of European journalists down long corridors in a modern building outside Gothenburg, Sweden. A special door was opened with difficulty, the man who was leading us couldn’t open it, his key card didn’t have clearance. A smartly dressed woman stepped forward, swiped her card and “chung,” the door opened.
What you might have expected to see inside was an alien space craft floating mid air, powered only by light, using a technology far in advance of our own. Sorry, slipped off there a moment.
There was a mysterious object under a sheet, and when this was ceremoniously removed, what I saw was ..... a Volvo estate car.
Had I come all this way to see a Volvo estate car! Not even a floating one? I’d seen loads of these sensible, safe, well made, expensive cars on the roads in the UK for years.
A number of proud Volvo workers stood around smiling at us. This, we were told, was the Volvo V60 plug in diesel hybrid electric car. We were given a talk about the colour scheme, the detail of the interior, the slightly reduced space in the rear.
Then I lay down on the floor and looked underneath.
Ahh, there we are, something a bit different about the underneath part.
A mere 12 years after Toyota unveiled the Prius, a mere 15 years after Honda launched the Honda Insight, Volvo have launched a hybrid car. I was feeling a little bit cynical as you can possibly tell. But then I started to get interested.
They have taken their time, tested stuff out, made sure it worked really really well. They have seen what others have done and taken it further.
Here’s some guidance for real world usage of the Hybrid Toyota Prius.
You don’t need to plug it in.
It produces 89 grams of Co2 per kilometer, massively lower than any other car of the same size.
It gets between 65 and 80 mpg depending on how you drive it.
Here’s what Volvo have done with the V 60
You can plug it in, but you don’t have to.
If you do, the first thirty miles can be pure electric.
It is a diesel hybrid, and it produces 50 grams of Co2 per kilometer, the lowest emissions of any internal combustion powered car of any size ever made.
It gets 124 mpg in hybrid mode. Yes, one hundred and twenty four miles to the bloody gallon.
If you stick in hybrid mode, you have a full tank and a fully charged battery, you can drive 745 miles without stopping. That will get you to Scotland, the never ending demand from petrol heads commenting about battery powered cars. That will also give you some kind of triple hernia because even at a constant 70 miles an hour that’s over 10 hours driving, so you will be literally busting for a pee.
The car is very swish and sophisticated with all the usual Volvo safety stuff, but it has some extra buttons on the centre console. It is set to hybrid drive as the default, this means the car uses a combination of the 52 kilowatt AC motor powered by a 12 kilowatt hour battery driving the rear wheels and a 2.4 liter Diesel engine driving the front.
You can, if the battery is charged enough, press the hybrid button again to give you electric only drive, you can go up to 62 mph using this, and Volvo claim the batteries will take you up to 30 miles depending on conditions and driving style.
You can also press the power button and probably do tail drifts across a disused airfield as obviously this is very important.
I was very impressed, I didn’t get to drive it because it’s all been top secret until today, it’s being officially launched at the Geneva motor show next week.
So, what about the normal criticisms and bigotry regarding hybrid vehicles. The batteries are much worse than a normal car, the mining of the materials does more damage than 10 million dirty diesels.
I can barely be bothered to respond, but here’s a few pertinent facts as opposed to utterly unfounded allegations.
The hybrid that is the most common and has done the most real world driving is obviously the Prius.
There are over 600 Prius Taxi’s worldwide that have travelled over 300,000 miles each on the original battery pack and tests have show that the batteries are around 85% as effective as they were when new.
The total savings in fuel use brought about by the existence of 1.4 million Prius cars worldwide has been calculated to be around $1.2 billion dollars. That’s $1.2 billion dollars saved by all those ‘stupid, smug, tree hugging ‘green’ do-gooders who drive hateful hybrids.’
The battery packs of both the Prius and without doubt the Volvo V60 will last the lifetime of the car and are 99% recyclable, the elements within the batteries are worth money, no one is going to chuck them into landfill.
The arrant nonsense that producing batteries is worse for the environment than producing a standard ICE car has been proved beyond all shadow of doubt. Over the lifetime of the Volvo and the Prius, the massive reduction in fuel use has an impact that outweighs any extra materials used to construct it by a factor of 10.
100,000 miles in a Volvo V60 will use about 806 gallons. In a standard Volvo V 60, a fair comparison I think, will use around 2875 gallons. Over 2,000 gallons more!
I rest my smug, tofu filled rattan case.