'With the cost of fuel grabbing all the headlines recently, it looks as though the timing of these products couldn't have been better,' said Volvo Car managing director Gerry Keaney at the world premiere of the company's line-up of bi-fuel gas-petrol models at the NEC. 'We are proud to be unveiling a full range of dual-fuel vehicles covering all models. Each comes off the line at our factories and meets our crash test criteria in full. But in addition, the boot or load space of every car is kept clear to counter criticism of previous LPG and CNG installations,' he said.
Keaney said LPG-driven variants of the S40 and V40 will go into production at the end of the year but revealed that either CNG or LPG will be available on the S60 and S80, along with the V70 estate, all of which will be offered for sale by the end of 2001.
'These new engines have the double benefit of lower emissions of greenhouse gasses - 20% in the case of CNG - as well as much lower operating costs. Progress is being made by the oil companies in accelerating the installation of LPG facilities, but we'd like this work to be accelerated. We'd also like them to consider adding CNG pumps as well.
'Looking to the future, just imagine being able to refuel your car with CNG at home by tapping into your domestic gas supply - fuel blockades would suddenly become a complete irrelevance.'
With the 1.8-litre four-cylinder Bi-Fuel motor under their bonnets, the S40 and V40 have a 117bhp power output in LPG mode and produce 122bhp on petrol. Driven on gas, each has a range of 285 miles, with the traditional petrol tank providing a further 466 miles capability.
Bi-fuel power for Volvo's larger models comes from a 2.4-litre, five-cylinder developing 140bhp on either gas or petrol. Operated in petrol mode, the motor complies with the tough EU 2005 emission standards and returns even lower levels when running on gas.
In all cases, the Swedish cars store gas under the floor to allow identical load space as in regular petrol or diesel versions. A company spokesman said: 'Depending on the market, the cost of driving on natural gas is between 30% and 60% lower than running on petrol and up to 40% lower than diesel.'
Keaney also took the wraps off the Swedish company's first in-house diesel engine on the show stand. Built at Skovde alongside the petrol motors from which it is derived, the all-alloy five-cylinder unit has a 2.4-litre capacity and produces 163 bhp at 4,000rpm and 250lb-ft of torque at 1,750rpm. Featuring common rail technology and considerably more powerful than the Volkswagen Group engine it replaces, it will be progressively introduced from spring next year in the S80, V70 and S60.
Keaney said:'This is the start of what will be a complete programme of Volvo-designed diesel engines. Diesel is a real opportunity for us to grow sales as we pursue the strategy to increase our sales worldwide by 50% over the next four years.'