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Volvo Plug-In Hits the Road

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Last fall Volvo showed off its ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept at the Frankfurt auto show. Now the Swedish arm of Ford Motor Company says it's going to press ahead with the plug-in program--and in fact, they're already on the road.

C/Net, the car-tech gurus, reports that Volvo's plug-in hybrid is on the road, in a test with the Swedish government. Also hooked into the program are colleagues over at GM's Saab brand and the Swedish power company Vattenfall. Over five years, the companies will field a fleet of 10 plug-in hybrids to evaluate their feasibility. Volvo says it's also going to confirm which of its vehicles will go hybrid during the course of the next five years.

Whatever technology the standard hybrids use, they're likely to be less advanced than the ReCharge. The concept car uses four separate electric motors and a set of lithium-polymer batteries to provide primary motivation. When fully recharged, which takes about three hours, the battery system will provide a range of about 100 kilometers (62 miles) of driving, according to Volvo. Recharging the batteries is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder Flexifuel engine, which cycles on and off as needed and essentially functions as a generator for the system, allowing long-distance driving. When functioning beyond the battery's original charge, on the gasoline engine only, fuel economy is about 43 miles per gallon, though Volvo says that for a 93-mile starting at full charge, the effective fuel economy is 124 mpg.

Volvo's been designated as Ford's hybrid-vehicle specialists, so we're eager to see this in action, along with the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and other gas-electric cars in the planning stages. But you tell us -- do you think the promise of plug-in hybrids will be fulfilled any time soon? Tell us in a comment below.
 
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