The Volvo ReCharge – the next stage in hybrids?

Volvo’s been showing off their ReCharge plug in hybrid concept at  the  recent Frankfurt Motor show. The ReCharge is a plug in hybrid with individual electric wheel motors and batteries that can be recharged via a  standard household electrical socket. The ReCharge will do about 60 miles on battery power alone before the four cylinder diesel engine would need to kick in to recharge the batteries.  Since the ReCharge will have four individual electric motors – one for each wheel, there’s no need for a transmission, which can waste up 20 percent of an engine’s power.  Popular Science has an interesting article on how the four motors in the ReCharge will work.

Volvo ReCharge According to the article, the trick is to make sure all four motors are spinning exactly at the same speed, otherwise the car could veer violently,  and the ReCharge team is working hard on refining the software to control the motor speed.  The ReCharge will also be powered by a lithium-polymer battery, which has proven to be safer than the more talked about lithium-ion batteries.  Volvo isn’t saying where they’re getting their batteries from.

Current plans also call for either a 1.6 liter flex fuel or turbodiesle engine, which would kick in to recharge the batteries when they start running low.  But since the engine doesn’t actually power the car, eventually a fuel cell could take the place of the engine.  With the current configuration, the ReCharge would be expected to get 160 miles per gallon of gas.

Volvo ReCharge plug-in Hybrid

No word yet from Volvo as to whether they have any plans to take the ReCharge to production or simply show it as a concept car. Actual production is obviously years away, given the engineering challenges that remain.

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