Volvo Cars will unveil the Efficiency, a special version of its small C30 hatchback, at the Frankfurt auto show in September.

As the name suggestS, the C30 Efficiency is efficient. Powered by a modified version of Volvo’s 1.6L turbodiesel, it boasts fuel economy of 52 mpg (4.5L/100 km) and cuts carbon-dioxide emissions to less than 120 g/km, qualifying buyers for a SK10,000 ($1,436) government rebate as part of the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Magnus Jonsson, senior vice president-research and development, says the Efficiency’s fuel economy gain, a 10% improvement from the standard 1.6L turbodiesel C30’s 48 mpg (4.9L/100km), was achieved via “small adjustments.”

Volvo says it focused development on four areas:

  • Aerodynamics. The car’s chassis was lowered and a new roof spoiler, rear bumper and underbody panels were added. Also aerodynamically optimized were the engine cooling system and the car’s 16-in. rims.
  • Reduced rolling resistance courtesy of low-friction tires, similar to those found on hybrid-electric vehicles.
  • Higher gearing. Ratios have been revised for the transmission’s third, fourth and fifth gears.
  • Powertrain efficiency increases, including low-friction transmission oil and optimization of steering servo assistance and engine management

Special visual elements also are added to differentiate the Efficiency from the standard C30.

Meanwhile, Volvo also says it will offer the Powershift gearbox, developed by Getrag GmbH, in the upcoming ’08 Volvo C30, S40, and V50. The 6-speed, dual-clutch, automated-manual transmission, also to be employed by parent Ford Motor Co. in the all-new ’09 Lincoln MKS sedan, reduces fuel consumption 8%, Volvo says.

If Volvo and Ford were to apply technology from both the Efficiency and Powershift transmission across their global lineups, U.S. and European fuel economy and emission requirements could be achieved easily, assuming cost issues were addressed, officials say.

An energy bill passed earlier this summer by the U.S. Senate calls for a combined car-light truck fuel economy average of 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) by 2020. The European Parliament is debating proposed legislation that would force auto makers to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from new models to an average of 130 g/km across the fleet by 2012. Both proposals have met with opposition from the industry.

A worldwide rollout of the Efficiency diesel is being considered, but the car would have to meet price targets, a Volvo spokesman tells Ward's.

“Initially this was developed for the Swedish market,” he says. “We have to see how well it does in its home market first before any decision or evaluation is made about other markets. But we definitely see it as a step in the right direction.

“Nothing is cost effective in the beginning in any industry,” he adds. “If this succeeds and is effective in Sweden, which we suspect it will be, the potential always exists for it to expand if it is economically feasible from a manufacturing and consumer standpoint.”

In addition, Volvo is developing highly efficient direct-injection gasoline engines and technology that would allow more advanced control of both the engine air/fuel mixture and valve timing and lift.

“We are optimistic in doing this kind of research and pursing this avenue of development,” the spokesman says of the research into more efficient gasoline engines. “We see it as definitely a good thing. But whether it can be achieved or is cost effective, (remains) to be seen.”

bpope@wardsauto.com