Volvo will display a diesel plug-in hybrid version of its V60 estate at the forthcoming Geneva motor show. The car will be put into production in 2012, and the Swedish car-maker claims it will be the first in the world with such a drive-train.

Peugeot is about to introduce a diesel hybrid version of the 3008 but this will not be of the plug-in type. A plug-in hybrid generally carries more batteries than a standard hybrid vehicle and is capable of being run in electric-only mode for much longer distances.

The layout of the Volvo and Peugeot diesel hybrids differs from that used by the leader in hybrids, Toyota. In a Toyota hybrid, the combustion engine and the electric motors are tightly integrated in a single package at the front of the car and drive the front wheels. In Peugeot's and Volvo's forthcoming diesel hybrids, the diesel engine drives the front wheels while the electric motors drive the rear wheels.

Drivers of the Volvo V60 diesel plug-in hybrid will be able to travel 32 miles in battery-only mode using the car's 70 horsepower electric motor. For full acceleration, the 215 horsepower diesel engine can also be brought into play. Running as a hybrid, the car has claimed CO2 emissions of 49g/km. These three modes are called “pure”, “power” and “hybrid” and can each be selected via separate buttons on the dashboard.

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