Volvo is developing new three-cylinder engines to power its future line-up of sedans, crossovers and SUVs. This was revealed by Mr. Derek Crabb, the company’s powertrain engineering head and the executive director for the company's motorsports division. Derived from the company’s current line-up of four-cylinder Drive-E range of engines, the first will be a petrol mill and is expected to be ready by 2016 to power mid-level luxury cars below the S60, V60 and the XC60.
The decision of getting into three-cylinder units has mainly been driven by the stringent emission regulations. Volvo currently has an average of 120g/km in Europe, a number which it will have to bring down to 75g/km by 2020, to suit the Australian regulations. While it has tried to stay away from hybrid powertrains for now, the company says that it might be viable and necessary to turn to electric power by the next decade. In such a case, these three-cylinder engines could play an important role in the company’s future hybrid powertrains.
Refusing to go into details and variants of these engines, Mr. Crabb told Autocar UK, “I see it [three-cylinder engines] being possible in S60 but not higher. 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.”
Mr. Crabb further added that the Drive-E range will be upgraded biennially to get better performance, emission and efficiency numbers. While the company’s Drive-E range has as many as four variants each for the petrol and diesel engines, the three-cylinder range might not be as diverse. The first engine will be a 1.5-litre unit based on the four-pot version, minus one cylinder. The engineering involved however, won’t be as easy as it sounds and is expected to go into production only by 2016.