By on February 22, 2019

Image: Volvo Cars

You wouldn’t know it, but that’s a heavily refreshed 2020 Volvo XC90 staring back at you from the header image. Good thing the grille still carries a Volvo badge.

Okay, the tweaks made to the SUV’s front fascia are milder than chain restaurant salsa, but the changes to the Swedish brand’s largest vehicle for 2020 are more than skin deep. For the upcoming model year, Volvo rolls out the first of its B-badged vehicles. What’s B? It signifies the presence of a kinetic energy recovery system designed to boost fuel economy by up to 15 percent.

A mild hybrid, in other words, but not the belt starter-generator type you’re used to.

Volvo began development of a Flywheel KERS system back in the early part of the decade, hoping to use technology developed for F1 racing in its passenger car lineup. With this system, braking energy is transferred, via a brake-by-wire system, to a carbon fiber flywheel, which quickly spins itself up to 60,000 rpm. When the driver switches pedals, the rear axle-mounted system sends the energy captured by the flywheel to the wheels via a specialized transmission. View a layout here.

In past years, Volvo claimed the system could add as much as 80 horsepower to the vehicle’s output, aiding in acceleration or reducing engine load at speed.

Image: Volvo Cars

The system will be used in combination with existing powertrains; 2020 CX90 models equipped with KERS will carry a “B” badge. As part of the company’s plan to offer electrification throughout its range, Volvo says the system “offers drivers up to 15 per cent fuel savings and emission reductions in real world driving.”

Other Volvo models, starting with the XC60, stand to gain the system. Note that Volvo claims the B-badged models won’t come to the U.S. straight away.

At the top of the range, the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid returns for those seeking maximum fuel savings.

Other than KERS, a revamped grille, and other cosmetic tweaks, the company’s midsizer gains a six-person seating configuration for 2020. That means there’s now a four-, five-, six-, and seven-person layout. Safety improvements come in the form of steering assist, which is added to the model’s City Safety and Blind Spot Information System. Volvo boasts that its City Safety with Autobrake “is still the only system on the market to recognise pedestrians, cyclists and large animals.”

Joining that tech for 2020 is Volvo’s Oncoming Lane Mitigation system, which first appeared in the XC60. Meanwhile, the SUV’s Cross Traffic Alert gains automatic braking.

Had Jeff Bridges driven a 2020 XC90 in Fearless, Rosie Perez would never have overcome her intractable grief.

The new XC90 which starts production in Sweden this May.

[Images: Volvo Cars]

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49 Comments on “Nearly Unrecognizable 2020 Volvo XC90 Bows With Novel Mild Hybrid System...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    All the complication and added cost of KERS, for maybe 15% fuel savings?

    No thanks.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    How do they deal with gyroscopic effects of a flywheel if sufficient mass/velocity to have a meaningful effect?
    Don’t ever turn?

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    How do they deal with gyroscopic effects of a flywheel if sufficient mass/velocity to have a meaningful effect?
    Don’t ever turn?

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Volvo is not a Swedish brand, it’s a CHINESE brand.

  • avatar
    Urlik

    Of course F1 KERS turns kinetic energy from braking into electric storage and not flywheel storage. Love to see the handling difference for the vehicle with the flywheel spun up versus stationary.

  • avatar
    jatz

    I don’t care about spinning things I’ll never see; I just celebrate any handsomely squared-off greenhouse that lets me see.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    BTW Volvo did not develop that. It was SKF, who probably bought that tech from someone else originally almost ten years ago. I know that Williams sold its kinetic KERS tech a while back, I don’t know into whose hands it ended up.

    Volvo (which, as Asdf pointed out is a _Chinese_ company) bought that tech from a supplier.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Test

    This is a Crossover.

    Edit: Either a glitch with posting or I’m banned from certain topics. At least something finally posted.

  • avatar

    Volvo is owned by a Chinese company but it’s a very Swedish brand in it’s design heads and engineering. Not to mention since the Chinese have been investing in Volvo they have opened the first ever US plant for Volvo. It’s a global economy, and automobiles represent that better than anything with parts being made all over, just look at most content labels. So it might be more Chinese than ever before, but it’s also more American than ever before (and yes, there is still a plant in Sweden too!)

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Belgium has a big Volvo factory as well, been there for almost forty years.

      Geely who owns Volvo. also bought 10% of Mercedes and a Danish bank too just for fun. Walrus-mustachioed outgoing Daimler prez Dr. Dieter Zetsche has acknowledged that they will be co-operating on “projects”.

      Those US entrepreneurs who shuttered US consumer product plants in the 1990s and moved to China to make replica plastic for peanuts and shipped the chintzy results back for newly unemployed Americans to buy, have a lot to answer for! They created Chinese billionaires with plans of their own.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Volvo is a Chinese company, they may have some level of autonomy but their parts bin is from Geely. While owned by Ford both Volvo and Jaguar reflected Fords parts bin and it’s no different now. Except of course Ford isn’t dumb enough to turbo and supercharge a micro engine.

    • 0 avatar

      Do Chinese own Rolex brand also? Most of Rolex watches I saw were made in China and rather poorly made I would add.

  • avatar
    aajax

    Volvo is Swedish. Your iPhone is Chinese.

  • avatar
    rickkop

    Currently easing a Volvo xc60. Approached them after I received a pull ahead letter from Volvo. Looked at a new XC60 T8. I know it cost a little more but I thought there would be some residual to make the lease reasonable. Not hardly. They wanted $5900 down to lease at $579 per month. Ha hahahahah Looks like this was my last Volvo.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      The reason the lease numbers look terrible is because they know resale on this is going to be a problem. Even before this announcement of yet more complexity in this suv, these things have had major problems to the point that Volvo shortened the CPO warranty.

      They know this is a POS. Would hate to own one in year 5 or later.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you know that Volvo competes with Mercedes? You have to pay for exclusivity also as a bonus. Another example is Maserati – Italian made Chrysler. It costs astronomical sum because the key word is “Italian”, like in Ferrari. I am sure you pay also more for FIAT than for equivalent Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        My Holden badges SS sedan has significantly more exclusivity on this continent with significantly better reliability and resale. The key difference is the Holden is not defined by its exclusivity but rather by its capability and world renown drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Yeah, Volvo ‘competes with Mercedes’ according to them and their customers. It’s always been the same thing: people claim its on par with Mercedes and BMW, then when the new generation arrives everyone admits that they weren’t there before but they claim that THIS TIME they’re on par. And so the cycle goes on but Volvo never really is in that league.

        Maserati is not any kind of Chrysler.

        • 0 avatar

          Did you ever been inside of Ghilbi? Do you think FIAT developed it from scratch, where platform comes from?

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            The inside of Ghibli (not Ghilbi) is a very fine example of Italian design, Ermenegildo Zegna silk and all…

            Maserati/FCA did develop the platform for Maserati, and meant for that platform to maybe be used by Chrysler and Dodge later on. Not the other way around.

          • 0 avatar

            If they did they will get broke soon. There is no way they can get their investment back – Mazerati does not sell in any meaningful numbers and is overpriced for what it offers compared with Germans or Brits. Only fool will buy brand new Mazerati of any kind. And they use Chrysler bin parts inside cabin and who know how they cut corners in places you cannot see.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Maserati is not any kind of Chrysler.”

          I beg to differ sir.

          autotrader.com/car-news/nicest-chrysler-tc-maserati-sale-autotrader-263236

    • 0 avatar
      JonKessler

      Got an XC60 T8 to lure the boss out of her 98 Passat base wagon. While Porsche hasn’t anything to worry about in the 400hp wagon segment, and the T8 will be jacktastically expensive to repair, it’s a classy ride for a lovely lady.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Back in college I had a silver 1980 Honda Civic Wagon. The Volvo pictured above bears quite a bit of resemblance… square front, squarish shape all around.
    Too bad cleaner, more classic styling is now mostly a thing of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Clean styling is pulling me towards a Golf. A car this hatch lover has avoided for 20+ years. Heaven help me. (former 83 Civic owner BTW, but not a wagon. Such sweet cars.)

  • avatar
    James Charles

    I owned a number of kinetically driven cars.

    As a child of the 60’s we had those flywheel driven toys. You used to lay on the floor and constantly ramp up the flywheel by vigorously pushing the car on the floor, then let it go.

    What’s old is new.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    You know what else might give 15% fuel savings and not come with Volvo’s legendary simplicity and maintainability… (since the 850)? Not weighing two and a half tons (4581-5165lb, quoth Volvocars.com).

  • avatar

    Seriously. Could they have shown it in a duller color or background? With an equally dull color interior. Ugh.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Lol…but them turbos are rube Goldberg devices.

    Does this device make up for the extra weight of hauling I around? And talk about needless complexity…a giant heavy flywheel spinning at 60k rpms?! Yeah it’s a no from me dawg.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    For some odd reason I watched an entire 40minute podcast of Matt Farah and the Savage Geese car reviewers talking about the business of auto reviewing, and Farah mentioned that he offers car manufacturers the ability to not even post the video if he has absolutely no positive things to say about a vehicle .He called it a self destruct or kill switch something or other .The only car he had to “kill the video ” was a Volvo (S80 iirc).


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