Volvo announced on Monday that it has started production of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid estate at its Torslanda plant in Gothenburg. Deliveries of the first cars to customers will begin in early 2013, though; if you’re interested don’t expect to get one before 2014 because the initial batch consists of just 1,000 vehicles, all of which have already been spoken for.
The company says that it will ramp up production to 4,000-6,000 units from 2014, since order books are already beginning to fill up. The project, which has been developed and financed by Volvo and Swedish electricity supplier Vattenfall, is the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid.
Incorporating the hybrid’s manufacture in the Torslanda plant’s production line, which also builds Volvo’s regular models, has required certain parts of the assembly line to be modified in order to integrate the more than 300 different parts that the V60 Plug-in Hybrid encompasses compared to the conventional models.
"We are first in the industry to integrate a plug-in hybrid in an established production flow together with other car models", said Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo. "The integration in the standard production flow gives the plug-in hybrid buyer the possibility to choose in principle all options available for the standard V60."
For example, the electric motor and its drive shafts are fitted on the same station as the final drive on the standard all-wheel drive versions. Additionally, the lithium-ion battery pack, which according to Mertens is “the single most complex system in the car”, is lifted through the tailgate and then spun a quarter of a turn in the passenger compartment in just 60 seconds and with less than 20 mm clearance.
You can watch a video showing the new Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid assembly line in detail right after the jump.
By Andrew Tsaousis