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Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept

The Swedish company says the XC60 concept can be recharged from a conventional powerpoint in 3.5 hours.

The Koreans starred, the Japanese mounted a comeback, and One Ford hit the headlines with an extended family of Focus-based newcomers that it is certain to make a big hit in Australia. But it was one car and the commitment of its company chief that made the most impact as America fought back on the opening day of the 2011 North American International Motor Show.

It's a luxury SUV that launches from 0-100km/h in just 6.1 seconds and can use as little as 2.3 litres of petrol over 100km takes pride of place on the Volvo stand at this week's Detroit Motor Show.

It can travel 45km on its battery pack in Pure mode, use less petrol than any European diesel when running in Hybrid mode, or launch off the line faster than most cars in Power mode.

It achieves this by combining a 52kW electric motor powering the rear wheels with a 208kW turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering drive to the front axle via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Volvo CEO Stefan Jaboby says no manufacturer can rival the XC60 concept's fuel economy and electric range along with a combined 260kW power output.

"The beauty with this plug-in hybrid technology is that you can keep all the power and capacity of your present car, combined with an even better range," he says. "This ingenious blend of state-of-the-art combustion technology and innovative electrification creates a bridge to a future where all-electric cars become more established on the roads."

Jacoby notes the concept has helped refine Volvo's existing production hybrid expertise. "A diesel-electric plug-in hybrid is coming to our European dealers this year and we are busy preparing a gasoline version for the American showrooms," he says.

The Swedish company says the XC60 concept can be recharged from a conventional powerpoint in 3.5 hours. Online media and satellite navigation is used to advise XC60 drivers of the fastest route, depending on traffic conditions, and will direct them to the nearest charging station if it detects the car needs it.

Jacoby also notes that Volvo is the fastest growing brand in the US, which already accounts for the majority of the company's sales. US sales climbed by nearly 25 per cent last year, while Volvo's global growth was around 20 per cent.