Electric and hybrid vehicles from Volvo, Honda, Volkswagon, Zap cars and others

The Volvo ReCharge Concept can be driven approximately 62 miles on battery power alone before the car’s four-cylinder 1.6 Flexifuel engine takes over to power the car and recharge the battery. As the vast majority of us drive less than 60 miles a day, the ReCharge is effectively a permanent electric car with an acceleration figure of 0-62mph in 9 seconds and a top speed of 100mph. It could get about 124 mpg.

The Volvo ReCharge Concept shown in Detroit combines a number of the latest technological innovations into a so-called “series hybrid” where there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels.

* Four electric motors, one at each wheel, provide independent traction power.

The 5.6% losses from the drive train are saved.

The advantage of electric motors in wheel systems are that it reduces the power necessary to propel the car by half compared by a geared traction motor thanks to the reduction of friction losses/mechanical efficiency.

* The battery pack integrated into the luggage compartment uses lithium-polymer battery technology. The batteries are intended to have a useful life beyond that of the car itself.
* Four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine (109 hp) drives an advanced generator that efficiently powers the wheel motors when the battery is depleted.

More on the Volvo ReCharge concept car.

The Volvo ReCharge

The diesel hybrid Volkswagon Golf

the hybrid Golf will get 69.9 mpg and emit 90 g/km of carbon dioxide. An earlier report by Britain’s Auto Express said 89 g/km, but either way that’s less than the 104 g/km emitted by the Prius and 116 emitted by the Honda Civic Hybrid.

VW says it’s just a concept at this point, but Auto Bild says it is “more than a concept car” and Auto Express flat-out says “the first hybrid Golfs are expected here (meaning Britain) late next year [2009].”

Honda is planning to show new dedicated hybrid cars in Sept 2008 at the Paris autoshow. The company plans on pricing the new car aggressively, somewhere in the range of €16,000 and €20,000. The Prius currently runs about €24,000 in Europe. The new dedicated hybrid will use a new version of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system.

Honda will have one hybrid based on the CR-Z concept car.

Honda CR-Z hybrid car

The Paris Honda hybrid car will be newly built from the ground up and will be smaller than a Prius.

Zap is in collaboration with Hybrid Plus, Zap’s kit will convert hybrid Priuses and Highlanders into what tests predict will be 120 MPGe (city) and 90 MPGe (highway) vehicles. Depending on the vehicle, the kits cost between $24,000 and $36,000.

Zap has also announced the Zap Alias and the Zap-X cars. Zap has not been great at actually delivering on impressive press releases.