By Kevin Miller
Here in the US, “Green Car of the Year” type awards perennially go to the Toyota Prius. Occasionally, a hybrid manufactured by GM, Ford, or Honda wins, but the default winner is usually the Prius. Over here, Volvo is seldom in the running for any type of environmental awards for their vehicles.
If you live in North America, you probably wouldn’t think of the words “Volvo” and “green” in the same sentence, unless you happened to see one of the Swedish automaker’s products in the unfortunate color they call Willow Green, In the UK, however, those words go together a bit differently, as the Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe has been named Green Car of the Year at the 2009 What Car? Green Car Awards, which took place in London earlier this week.
The S401.6 DRIVe has features a 1.6 liter diesel engine rated at 109 HP, has a fuel economy rating which equates to 62 miles per gallon, and features an exceptionally low CO2 emissions of just 104g/km . In order to achieve those figures, the Volvo features an engine start/stop system which they introduced earlier this year in Geneva. When the driver puts the gear lever into neutral and releases the clutch while at a standstill, the engine switches off. The engine restarts when the driver steps on the clutch pedal. The system will also restart the car if air conditioning is needed in the cabin.
Volvo’s C30 hatchback and V50 wagon are also available with the DRIVe system featuring start/stop. The DRIVe models with this system use a second battery in the vehicle, to provide extra power for assured engine starting, and to ensure that auxiliary devices like fans, wipers and the audio system continue to function normally when the engine is off and when it is restarted. In addition to this secondary battery, the main vehicle battery has been upgraded, to handle an estimated life cycle of 175,000 engine starts.
Stuart Kerr, Volvo’s Regional President of Europe said: “Volvo has a strong commitment to its environmental activities and we have worked hard to reduce the carbon footprint on all our cars by focusing on health, resource utilization and the ecological consequences right through from production, use to disposal. The recent launch of the DRIVe range enables Volvo to offer mid-sized cars with the same fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as competitor’s small cars. For customers, this means that they don’t have to compromise on anything when they choose a Volvo. This highly important award is recognition of Volvo’s desire to build the most fuel efficient cars possible,” he concluded.
In addition to the 62 MPG C30, S40, and V50 DRIVe models, Volvo also offers European motorists DRIVe versions of the V70 wagon and S80 sedan with the same 109 HP, 1.6 liter diesel motor without start/stop technology, which are rated about 47 MPG. While neither the V70 nor the S80 would be very fun to drive with just 109 HP, it would be rewarding to be able to purchase such a large, safe and comfortable car with such a high fuel economy rating.
Unfortunately, Volvo currently has no plans to bring their efficient DRIVe vehicles to the North America, though there is rumor that their plug-in hybrid, due in 2012, may make it stateside. It seems that in the US, few consumers are interested in purchasing cars with good fuel economy unless they have the word HYBRID emblazoned prominently on the exterior- so until Volvo can use the magic H-word, their efficient cars will stay in Europe. Too bad for us.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved