keskiviikko 21. marraskuuta 2012

Volvo gets it right first

I wouldn't have thought I'd ever say this, but if I'd have the money and if I'd be buying a new car in the near future it might have to be a Volvo. Why? Here's why.

It's quite probably based on the PSA Peugeot Citroën HYbrid4 system just like the Volvo's 1,6 liter turbo diesel DRIVe is based on the PSA HDi, but they seem to have made just about all the right decisions here. It's a station wagon, the combustion engine is an efficient diesel and the rear wheels are driven by electric. You should be able to go 50 km on pure electric and there's a button for that. I tried to figure out what that plug was and it seemed like nothing I've seen before so it could be Volvo's own. Update: It's a Mennekes connector.

Other than the fact that my long distance driver has to be a 6- or 7-seater and I don't know if you can have the V60 with 7 seats, is that buying a new car these days doesn't feel that tempting. You may find yourself asking why. Cars are better and more economical than ever so why not. It's because of the ultra proprietary black box design they have become. Every new model is made more and more complex and impossible to fiddle with by yourself and I predict eventually everyone but the car maker's own approved mechanics will be able to do anything to them. 3rd party shops will be left fixing whatever old cars still may be around until they rust away.

That's the worst case scenario that may or may not happen, but the direction is clear and I don't like it. It may even be a necessity to make the ecological improvements possible, but the cost may be giving up whatever tiny control you had left in the way you move around. That's why I've pretty much found my perfect car and quite probably a long time keeper in the Peugeot 307sw HDi90 -07, a station wagon with a 1,6 liter turbo diesel engine and possibility of having 7 seats. I currently need six to accomodate for my immediate family and the palce for the seventh seat is free for luggage. The only reason I see switching cars is that I or some friendly fellow man crashes the car completely. Other than that I'm quite  sure I'll just keep fixing it as long as humanly possible.

In other words a plug-in hybrid like the Volvo would be a really cool car, but I believe it comes with way too much complexity and parts that can break. The same thing pretty much goes for any new, rather expensive all electrics. Cheap and simple they would be tempting, but expensive and proprietary, not so much. So what is cheap and simple, but all electric? A DIY conversion car, of course. Or even simpler, a motorcycle. These are the vehicles I like. Simple, popular vehicles with plenty of aftermarket parts available, just converted to electric with the simplest DC motor and Bottom Balanced traction pack. Easy to maintain, yet as comfortable as the donor chassis you get to choose and with a range as long as you like or can afford. Any part can be swapped for a new or improved at will.

Of course if you care about none of these things, need the range, but want to drive electric as much as possible, then the Volvo looks like it really has it all. It'll be interesting to see what the all electric Saab will be. Who knows, maybe Sweden is the new king of electric cars. I kind of wished it would be Finland, but looks we can just build them for others like Think and Fisker. Oh, well.

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