News item | 2012-12-17 | 15:50 PM

E-mobility news: The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid – from a Vattenfall R&D perspective

Production started on Friday the 16th of November for the first V60 Plug-in Hybrid cars, a result of the joint venture between Vattenfall and Volvo. A total of 1,000 cars will be produced for model year 2013, all of them already sold out before start of production. The following Next year, Volvo will increase the production to reach 4,000 - 6,000 cars. The V60 PHEV is produced alongside its non-electric siblings in Volvo’s Torslanda factory. The assembly line for the plug-in hybrid is somewhat adapted, and the car has 300 additional parts, not found in other V60s. The V60 PHEV was recently awarded “Greenest Car 2013” by the Swedish Association of Green Motorists.

The V60 plug-in hybrid is the physical result of collaboration between Volvo and Vattenfall, which started back in 2007, with the aim to develop plug-in hybrid technology. A demonstration project was conducted, with 3 modified Volvo V70 with plug-in hybrid technology Then, in 2009, Vattenfall and Volvo formed a joint venture to take the collaboration to the next level

We asked Johan Tollin, head of E-Mobility R&D at Vattenfall, a few questions about the car and the cooperation with Volvo.

The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid

The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid. Photo: Volvo Car Corporation

What has Vattenfall learned from the cooperation with Volvo, regarding matters of charging and infrastructure?

Many of the hypotheses we had regarding charging five years ago, still seem to be valid. For example, we still believe that drivers will charge their EVs mainly at home and at work.

Vattenfall is currently the market leader in Sweden when it comes to home charging for EV owners. We offer a package for buyers of EVs that includes an inspection of your electricity installations, followed by an upgrade (if necessary) and installation of a Mode 3 charging box.

Vattenfall has also gained a better understanding for the importance of how EV charging at home impacts electricity loads in a house. Further, Monika Löf, Roberth Hamrén and their colleagues at Vattenfall have, in cooperation with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm developed an ergonomically benigncharging equipment for test purposes, with full functionality, for home charging. It is operable with one hand, illuminated and with no cable lying directly on the ground.

We also have a better perception of the attractiveness associated with inductive charging. When it is fully automatic we see it as one of the main charging technologies for the future.

We have definitely increased the E-Mobility competence within Vattenfall and have built an efficient organisation. A lot of people have contributed over the past years and many of them still work with E-Mobility today. As an example, Susanna Hurtig worked as a consultant on the R&D side from the very beginning, and is currently working with business development for E-Mobility at Vattenfall.

 The demonstration project has also handed over charging data and battery health parameters to be used in applied science regarding EV charging. So far, one scientific article has been published where data from our demonstration was used.

In what technical aspects has Vattenfall contributed to the plug-in hybrid development?

Vattenfall demonstrated our vision for the future, that electricity can be a sustainable “fuel” with high environmental performance. We also showed that it is possible to use available infrastructure for plug-in hybrids, since they have limited charging needs, compared to pure (fully) electric cars. Plug-in hybrids reduce, or even eliminate, the need for public charging.

Volvo is also very keen on the idea of charging the car from a standard electric socket.

Name one of the car’s properties or functions that is a direct or indirect result of Vattenfall’s contribution?

Perhaps it is not a tangible property, but Vattenfall has been very active in the discussions regarding an international standard for plugs and sockets for EV charging. We have particularly worked hard for and influenced the decision within the international committees to allow charging with a Schuko plug and a standard wall socket, combined with additional charging equipment to increase safety.

For the car side, we participated in the discussions regarding what type of connector to use. We probably had some influence in Volvo’s decision regaring this matter, made at an early stage. This decision has later proved to be in line with international standards and the market development.

In the user study for the V70 PHEV demo cars, conducted by Vattenfall, drivers requested a feature to save electricity for urban and/or residential areas, where they found that driving on electricity had a very significant impact. As a result of this, there is a feature on the V60 PHEV called “Save for later” that allows you to save electricity for such occasions.

What other lessons were drawn from the demonstration cars?

An electric driving range of 20 kilometres is not enough for most drivers. The V60 PHEV has an electric driving range of up to 50 kilometres, which should be enough for most daily commutes.

The batteries worked really well and degradation was negligible. And this means that the cooling and control systems of the battery were well optimized.

What is your own favourite feature on the car?

It is definitely the “Save for later” feature. In addition, I also like the intelligent 4-wheel drive that operates only when needed and that there is a display showing you the latest speed limit sign. The last item has nothing to do with the electric drive, but fits very well with the fact that this is a high-quality, highly convenient and safe car.

With the knowledge and the organisation that Vattenfall built for E-Mobility R&D, how will you continue? What does the future hold?

Within R&D, we are currently working within a few different areas:

When it comes to charging, we are looking at convenient, functional solutions. We want to make it possible to charge EVs at home, when needed, with a high current and short charging time, without the need for upgrading your fuse or grid subscription. The electric loads in a house can be balanced, in order to use a higher percentage of the maximumpower [kW].

We are also working with a demonstration and evaluation of fully automatic (inductive) charging. 

Two of our R&D colleagues, Kristinn Sigmundsson and Per-Olof Nylén, are developing a charging app for smart phones with an integrated low cost payment solution.

There is always a lot going on. One of the best things with working within the E-Mobility R&D field is that it is constantly changing and there are always new challenges to meet.


Johan Tollin