Following the successful introduction of Volvo’s Drive-E Powertrain range in 2013, Volvo’s powertrain team again went to work designing improved emission-reducing, gas-powered turbo technology.
“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,” said Peter Mertens, senior vice president for research and development, Volvo Car Group.
The 450-hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is based on a set of technologies not usually found in a four cylinder engine, he noted. The engine utilizes two parallel turbochargers that are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, is instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers.
Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure. The triple-boost installation and unique fuel system enables dynamic drivability without any turbo lag, compared to a mono-turbo, the company stated.
“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,” said Michael Fleiss, vice president of powertrain engineering, Volvo Car Group. “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.”
The concept attracted the attention and involvement of Volvo Cars suppliers AVL, Denso and Volvo Polestar Racing at an early stage, which allowed theories and technologies from racing applications to be infused in the development process.
“This was a very exciting project, as we pioneered a combination of technologies in the same application, and the result is a quite unique engine with its high power yet quick response. 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,” said Mattias Evensson, race engine director, Volvo Polestar Racing.
Mertens stated that the concept is integral to the company’s future engine development on many fronts.
“It may sound odd, but the 450-hp concept is an important part of our Drive-E development program,” he said. “Downsizing must offer customers attractive and usable power for broad-scale emissions reduction to work. Compact powertrains free-up space and weight in the structure of the car, which can be used for electrification and even further emissions reduction. And that is our ultimate ambition.”