Volvo adds three-cylinder to Drive-E engine family

Volvo’s Drive-E engine family keeps on growing.

Autocar has confirmed that the Swedish automaker will produce a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder that will be featured as far up Volvo’s line as the S60 sedan, V60 hatchback, and the mid-range XC SUVs.

“I see [the three-cylinder] being possible in S60 but not higher,” said Derek Crabb, Vice President of Volvo Powertrain Engineering. “It’s not planned for the higher XC cars at the moment. It’s not the power. It’s more to do with the torque.”

As is the case with the Drive-E four-cylinders, both gas and diesel variants of the three-pots are expected, however Crabb did not confirm which variants would be produced. Nevertheless, a gas unit will be produced first. In many applications, the new engines will be a part of a hybrid drivetrain.

Crabb said the new powertrains will play a major part in the electrification of Volvo’s entire lineup, as the brand is gunning for a 75g/km CO2 average emission rating in the next decade.

“By 2020, we have to get down to 95g/km,” Crabb said, “but in Australia we have to get down to 75g/km in the same timeframe. If you really get your engineering right, you can get through
95g/km without electrification. Our average now is 120g/km in Europe.”

As technology improves, Crabb hopes that hybrid powertrains will become cheaper, but he maintains that a gas engine will be an important piece of the puzzle for years to come.

“Hopefully, by 2025, electrification will be more commercially sensible and then you will have higher-power electrics, but you’ll need three-cylinder engines. So introducing a three-cylinder engine is creating building blocks through to 2025.”

Volvo’s latest addition to the efficient engine family will debut before 2020, sometime after the brand’s new Drive-E four-cylinders arrive in 2016.

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