Volvo and Saab will build ten vehicles to test the new plug-in hybrid technology and the Volvo ReCharge Concept will play a major role in researches. Check the video.

Plug-in hybrid cars are being pointed out as the next step toward sustainable mobility and Volvo has already made a significant breakthrough with the Recharge, a C30-based vehicle that uses one electric engine in each wheel. This sort of technical arrangement will very likely be the one most cars in the future will use, since it presents many advantages: it frees space for luggage and passengers, since the engine compartment is not used and it eliminates the need of a steering system (turns are made by rotation differences among the wheels). Volvo and Saab have also announced a cooperation agreement, along with Vattenfall (Swedish electricity provider), ETC (Swedish batteries and fuel cells company) and the Swedish State, to develop plug-in hybrid vehicles. The news linking these two facts is that ten vehicles will be build to test the technology and there is one already on driving tests. Guess which one? The video will tell you, in case you have any doubts left.

The Recharge will be the base for building these ten cars, more in what relates to its technology than its appearance. Therefore, Saab’s vehicles may even use a different model to evaluate the plug-in hybrid system, such as the still not released 9-1, but we bet it will feature one electric engine in each wheel, each capable of 999 Nm of torque. That’s correct, people: each. The total amount of torque available for these cars will be 3,996 Nm.

Power will depend on the batteries provided by ETC. Nowadays, they are able to deliver 136 cv, with peaks of 204 cv for a few seconds. That limits top speed to 160 km/h, more than enough for most roads all over the world, but few cars would be able to accelerate so fast.

If the car counted only on its batteries, it would be able to maintain this top speed for only 10 minutes or to have an autonomy of 100 km, but this is when the “hybrid” part of the car gets in action. When battery charge is low, a 1.6-litre bioflex combustion engine starts to generate electricity. With this engine, the car can maintain 160 km/h for as long as there is fuel in the tanks or can run for about 680 km, if you add the 100 km the batteries can provide.

Since there are no mechanical links between components, all parts can be easily changed, such as the engine, which can be much smaller. At the same time it is an advantage, it is also the main challenge Volvo and Saab will have to face. After all, proving “by wire” systems safe, mainly brakes, may take a little more time than researchers would like to admit.

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