Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

Volvo Cars will unveil its ReCharge Concept, a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle with flex-fuel capability, at this week’s Frankfurt auto show.

The ReCharge, based on the Volvo C30, features individual wheel motors that can be recharged via a standard electrical outlet. A full recharge takes three hours, Volvo says.

The car can travel 62 miles (100 km) in electric-only mode, after which a 1.6L 4-cyl. flex-fuel engine kicks in to recharge the battery.

For a 93-mile (150-km) drive starting with a full charge, the car requires less than 0.7 gallons (2.8L) of fuel, giving it an effective fuel economy of 124 mpg (1.9 L/100 km), Volvo says.

The combustion engine can be engaged directly by the driver via a button on the instrument panel, which starts the engine sooner to maximize the battery charge.

Ichiro Sugioka, project manager for the ReCharge Concept, says the car differs greatly from competitors’ hybrids.

“Today’s hybrids use the battery only for short periods to assist the combustion engine,” he says. “Our solution is designed to run on electric power all the time, while providing the extra security that comes with having a combustion engine as a secondary source of electrical power.

“What is more, our C30 with plug-in hybrid technology retains its lively and sporty driving properties. Acceleration from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) takes 9 seconds and top speed is 99 mph (160 km/h).”

The concept, developed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Camarillo, CA, uses lithium-polymer battery technology that is designed to have a useful life beyond that of the vehicle itself, Volvo says.