The Volvo V60 diesel hybrid, the first plug-in Americans won’t get

Volvo-V60-plug-in-hybridFew people would have expected that, because many see California as the leading market towards electric mobility. There’s just no other state or country where you can find as many Nissan Leafs or Tesla roadsters, but when Swedish car maker Volvo will launch its first plug-in hybrid model late next year, it won’t even try to sell it in America. There is one main reason for this: it’s a diesel. Volvo doesn’t currently sell any in the US. We guess it would cost significant money to make Volvo’s diesels compliant and certified. There’s also a marketing issue. Diesel is a niche market in America, and nobody knows how the American public would react towards a plug-in diesel hybrid. We won’t find out soon…

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid starts life as a normal V60 with a 215-hp diesel engine driving the front wheels via a a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid adds a 50-kW electric motor on the rear axle with a 11.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The driver then has the choice of driving a slow electric rear-drive car, or a powerful all-wheel drive. Or a standard front-wheel drive diesel, if the battery is discharged.

Volvo hasn’t released the exact pricing yet, but it explained that its V60 Plug-in Hybrid will only comes fully loaded with the highest trim and equipment. Cost of hybrid should be about 10,000 euros ($13K). That sounds pretty good, but Europeans can’t rush to their dealer yet. Production won’t start before November 2012, and they will build only 1,000 in the first year. Production should be raised to 4,000-6,000 cars for model year 2014.