By Mary Lowry
With a 90-percent new leadership team and an $11 billion investment in new engines, infrastructure and production facilities upgrades, Volvo is shooting for a more prominent position in the luxury car market.
“This is the day the journey begins. This is the beginning of Volvo’s transformation,” said Tony Nicolosi, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, speaking at a recent media introduction of the company’s new Drive-E powertrains.
The Drive-E powertrains are being ushered in on the 2015 Volvo S60 sedan, V60 wagon and XC60 crossover. V60 models are arriving now at dealerships; the other two models are not far behind.
Volvo says the new four-cylinder Drive-E engines boost fuel economy from 13 to 26 percent, depending on which current Volvo engine they are compared to, and reduce emissions while delivering performance comparable to the bigger engines they replace. Even higher increases in fuel economy are on Volvo’s horizon in the form of plug-in hybrid powertrains. The four-cylinder engine can readily accommodate a hybrid setup. Its compact size allows for front or rear positioning of the electric motor. The battery pack would be mounted midship.
For the time being, U.S. consumers will have a choice between two gasoline Drive-E engines: one generating 240 horsepower, the other 302 horsepower, both with front-wheel drive. The former is turbocharged and the latter is turbocharged and supercharged.
Volvo’s existing powertrains will still be available until the end of next year, when the Drive-E versions are scheduled to be completely phased in.
Tech features of the Drive-E engines, which are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, include start-stop and brake regeneration and friction reduction.
Start-stop and brake regeneration uses brake pressure measurement to trigger when to stop and start the engine. The system shuts down the engine when the car is at a standstill. An electric pump maintains oil pressure in the transmission while the engine is stopped. Friction-reduction measures include ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing, and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump.