Volvo Cars reveals 450 horsepower High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept

Volvo’s New Drive-E Powertrain: F1-type Power in a Volvo?

On Tuesday, October 7, Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Volvo Car Group, introduced the world to the High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept:

“When we launched the Drive-E powertrain family, our aim was to deliver the most advanced 4-cylinder engines in the industry based on emissions and fuel consumption relative to performance and drivability. We knew that 320 hp in our petrol configuration was just a starting point. The 450 hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept, demonstrates this ambition and the versatility of the Drive-E Powertrains.”

That’s a nice pedestrian quote.  What he actually said was that in the future, Volvo will equip passenger vehicles with an engine that approaches Formula 1 performance.

Think I’m crazy?

Formula 1 cars are all required to use the same 1.6 liter V-6 engine.  With that, they generate at or around 700 bhp–before the energy recovery systems boost output up to 800+ bhp.  Volvo’s new Drive-E isn’t tuned as tightly as an F1 power plant; but to put a concept out there that generates 450 bhp from a 2-liters is an eye-opener.

Here’s how it works. The key, like the F1 engine, is in the turbo.  What Volvo does is to take a 4-cylinder engine, and strap 2 parallel turbos to it. These turbos are fed compressed air from an electrically-powered turbo-compressor.  Fuel is fed to cylinders by a dual fuel pump arrangement that injects petrol at 250 bar pressure.  FYI, 250 bar pressure equals 3621 psi.

“There are several high power small size applications where one large turbo is used to create a high level of power available from other manufacturers, but the driving experience suffers due to slow engine response. We felt that with our heritage of being among the first car companies to embrace and offer a broad range of turbo technology since 1981, that we could improve this,” says Michael Fleiss, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.

This is like customizing a car in the video game Gran Turismo, where you can mod an engine with a low, mid, and high end turbo.

Needless to say, the concepts behind the new Drive-E come from Volvo Polestar Racing. AVL, a Volvo powertrain partner and Denso, a parts supplier also assisted in the development of Drive-E. Mattias Evensson, Race Engine Director at Volvo Polestar Racing chimes in on how racing technology will help the everyday driver:

Above all, its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the center of gravity – two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car,”

Here’s some video of the Drive-E Powertrain launch, courtesy of Volvo:

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