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Plug-In Diesel Hybrids of the Future

Plug-in hybrids are vehicles powered by an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. They make use of batteries that can be recharged by plugging to an external power source such as a household electric wall socket. These vehicles can run in all-electric mode for a specified distance before consuming fuel.

Plug-in Diesel Hybrids by their very name use diesel fuel. Plug-in hybrids are differentiated from the other hybrid cars via their ability to restore full battery charge by connecting to a regular electrical socket. The first plug-in hybrid to be certified road-worthy is the gasoline-powered Toyota Prius. Volvo beats the others in producing the first plug-in diesel hybrid for the US market courtesy of its Volvo V60 which will come rolling out by 2012. The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4’S Limited Edition models were sold-out in a matter of days in the European market.

The Volvo V60 is powered by a 2.4 L five-cylinder D5 turbo diesel engine that produces 215 hp and 440 Nm of torque. It is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. It comes at a higher price which it hopes to offset with the expected fuel economy. A lithium-ion battery pack provides power to its electric motor. The Volvo V60 has a driving range of 32 miles using solely the electric power and has been tested for carbon dioxide emissions at merely 49g/km.

The Volkswagen Golf Twin Drive Plug-in Hybrid intends to join the competition by 2013 or 2014. It shall be powered by the new 2.0I TDI diesel engine or the 1.4I TSI Motor E 85 engine. The introduction of the 2.0I TDI diesel engine reinforces the manufacturer’s belief in the possibilities of diesel-powered passenger cars in America. The engine which has been used in cars manufactured for the European market has been modified to comply with the North American regulations.

Audi hopes to provide consumers with another option through its Audi A5 e-tron Quattro plug-in hybrid. The first plug-in e-tron models are targeted to be introduced by 2014. The e-tron based R8 EV is expected to come out earlier by 2012 although its plug-in hybrid version may still have to wait a while longer.

Mercedes Benz has announced its plans of producing its own version of a plug-in hybrid much earlier. The latest news coming from the manufacturer however is about the Mercedes Benz S500 plug-in hybrid which uses a V6 gasoline engine and a 60-horsepower electric motor which is slated to grace the market by 2012. It is yet unclear if a diesel version shall be offered.

The Land Rover Range e-concept is expected to be launched in full production by 2013. It is powered by a 3.0L TDV6 diesel engine paired with a 92-horsepower electric motor. Estimated electric travel distances ranges 20 miles.
The development of the most efficient plug-in diesel hybrid would depend on finding answers to continuing concerns about high cost of producing lithium-ion battery packs and the lack of an extensive network of recharging stations that can match the prevalence of conventional gasoline stations thereby fully addressing the range-anxiety concerns of owners.

Concerns about reaching one’s destination before electric motor runs out has already been partly settled by the fuel engine. But in trying to find the ultimate option, proponents of a greener environment would prefer zero carbon emission and this is not possible with the use of diesel fuel. Efforts to find renewable sources of electrical energy such as wind power and hydro-power are continuously being exerted.