Motor shows are all about car companies advertising their new products, but at Frankfurt Volvo seemed to have taken that idea one stage further. The ReCharge ‘plug-in’ hybrid concept has a battery range of more than 60 miles and a 1.6-litre petrol engine to back it up. But it’s far more than that; the electric lead that goes from the front bumper to a charging point isn’t just about powering up the battery.
It’s actually a two-way process and at times of peak domestic electricity use, the car could act as a tiny power station. Amazingly, it could actually top up the national grid when it’s parked on the owner’s drive.
Volvo’s project leader Dr Ichiro Sugioka was clear about why the ReCharge was at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “Part of having the car here is to advertise the fact that we’re looking for partners. For example, we need to develop this charging system.
“We are experts in making drive lines, we are not a power company. I am trying to attract people from electricity companies to come and talk and work with us,” he explained.
Sugioka said the ReCharge was nowhere near production-ready, and confirmed there would be a whole generation of Volvo hybrids before something like his car would be launched. That won’t be until around 2015 or even later.
Another partner Volvo needs is someone to oversee the IT infrastructure. That’s because the owner would be paid by the power company for contributing to the national grid. If the ReCharge did very few miles he could cover his monthly driving costs and more.
Sugioka also confirmed the fact that the technology was wrapped up in a C30 was almost irrelevant. “It is our smallest car, and we chose that to make the packaging of the system as hard for ourselves as it could be, but it could just as easily have been any other Volvo product,” he said.
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