All that Volvo offers in the 90 Series will be handed down to the smallest 40 Series. Hybrid drivetrain included. Volvo is writing a new chapter with the new XC90. Not only are their cars aesthetically more pleasing to the eye, and boast great safety records, but now they're also betting on breaking into the electric vehicle market. With a new hybrid drivetrain, Volvo has set out to sell at least a million electric vehicles by 2025.

By Sebastjan Plevnjak, photo by Volvo

Considering their work to date, that probably won't be too diifficult a task. The new plug-in hybrid engine, called T5 Twin Engine, is a smaller derivative of the bigger and already established T8 engine, which will be coupled with the new CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) platform. With this in mind, Volvo promises to deliver excellent driving characteristics, low gas consumption and even lower emissions. The system will have an output of 250 hp (180 from the gas engine and 75 from the electric motor), with the power reaching the wheels via a dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission. The new T5 engine will thus make the drive not only more efficient and economical, but also more dynamic, if necessary.

This trait will go well hand-in-hand with the recently-introduced concept cars, 40.1. and 40.2. While they may be more handsome and compelling in person than in photographs, these are still concept cars we're talking about. The moment they transform to production vehicles, they (most of them anyway) lose the edge and become aesthetically less appealing and less exciting. But Volvo promises to keep their design as intact as possible, if they ever make it into production. With these two concept vehicles under its belt, Volvo plans to carry the concepts over into a small crossover and a five-door sedan, respectively, with the latter receiving a mixed response across different markets. Nevertheless, the car could win you over just with its design, and even thrive, providing the added practicality of five doors, the much-reputed above-average safety, and new engines. Let's also keep in mind that the platform will serve as the base for the global premium vehicles, which will be sold as universal, across the globe, by the end of next year.

Apart from a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the Swedes are also openly entertaining the idea of a fully-electric rendition, which is supposed to get off the assembly line in 2019. That probably won't be the new 40 Series (even though the new CMA platform is also adapted to this drive system), but a bigger model, probably from the 90 Series, which has also been built on a new, though bigger, SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform. The latter will also be the foundation to the new 60 Series, meaning it will be compatible with both plug-in hybrid and fully-electric versions. According to Volvo, one of its most important objectives is an electric range of about 350 kilometers, which is needed for the car to be fully suitable for daily use. And if we assume that, in a few years' time, the number of rapid charging stations (also to be found at highway gas stations) will rise drastically, then there's no reason to doubt their claim about daily usability.

Nov. 30, 2016 Driving photo: Volvo

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