Archive for the ‘plug-in hybrid’ Category

Volvo says from 2019 all new models it introduces will be electric or hybrid

July 5th, 2017

Enlarge / Volvo’s current plug-in hybrid range, the S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8s. (credit: Volvo Cars)

On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that all new models introduced from 2019 will feature some form of electric propulsion. The news follows an announcement in May that diesel engines have no future with the brand, in part because of ever-stricter EU carbon emissions targets, but also because of the growing concern over the health effects of diesel exhaust, which is loaded with particulates and nitrogen oxides.

When it comes to socially responsible car companies, Volvo appears to be leading the pack. The Swedish automaker, which built its reputation on safety, has already committed to a goal of reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo to zero by the year 2020. And it looks like that concern extends beyond the wellbeing of its customers to the rest of us as well.

Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles. Details about the new EVs are scarce at present, but the company says that three of them will be badged as Volvos, and the other two will be high-performance EVs badged as Polestars. (Polestar is Volvo’s in-house tuning operation, and you’ll be able to read a review of the S60 Polestar here at Ars in a few weeks.)

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A week with BMW’s unexpectedly charming X5 Hybrid SUV

February 11th, 2016

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of BMW’s i3 and i8 hybrids here at Ars. Now the Bavarian company is starting to apply that same technology to the models in its regular production range, starting with the (deep breath) BMW X5 xDrive40e. There’s no more funky styling and carbon fiber to distract you, just a good-old X5 with an up-to-date powertrain. The idea is to maintain the BMW driving experience but with an added dose of efficiency. So we put an X5 through its paces for a week to find out if that’s the case.

BMW’s decision to choose the X5 as its first “regular” model to hybridize was a smart one. The SUV is its second-best seller here in the US, and it stands to benefit from the electric vehicle treatment more than the cheaper, lighter 3 Series (although a plug-in hybrid version is coming, too). Under the hood is a 2.0 L, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, which together give the X5 a respectable 308ph (230kW) and 332lb-ft (450Nm). The batteries—9kWh of lithium-ion cells—live underneath the luggage compartment, an added bonus of the SUV’s size and shape.

That power and torque gets fed to the road through the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as the rest of the X5 range. As with the i3 and i8, the X5 gives you three different modes: Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro. You pick your mood and the electronic control units and their clever software does the rest. Eco Pro is a bit of a hair shirt. It limits the energy drain from the climate control and seat heaters and lets the car coast with the ICE turned off. Both Eco Pro and Comfort let you drive on electric power alone as long as there’s sufficient battery, with the ICE firing up and kicking in as needed (or above 75mph/120km/h).

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Sports car with a social conscience: Ars reviews the BMW i8

July 3rd, 2015

Late last year we reviewed BMW’s i3, a range-extended plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that impressed us despite its high price and limited range. That car is one half of BMW’s i Project, a sub-brand created to showcase the company’s vision of sustainable mobility. The i8 is the other half. It’s a plug-in hybrid sports car made from carbon fiber and aluminum. As such, it looks like very little else on the road.

But if this is what sports cars are going to be like in the future, we’re in for a real treat.

VIDEO: We explain just why the BMW i8 impressed us so much. Edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)


Like its smaller city car sibling, the i8 combines a Life Module (the bit you sit in) made out of carbon fiber joined to aluminum Drive Modules (the bits that make it go) clothed in thermoplastic body panels. Unlike the i3, it’s a low-slung machine. The Drive modules are mated to the front and back of the Life Module, and the car’s 7.1kWh lithium-ion batteries run along the car’s centerline (between the seats). Large butterfly doors open up-and-out, imbuing the car with even more visual drama—something it wasn’t really lacking to begin with. This is a car that attracts attention. Introverts beware.

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