Volvo is set to unveil its brand new concept, a made-for-America plug-in hybrid version of the popular XC60 at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The XC60 Plug-In Concept is essentially an alt-fuel version of Volvo’s best selling gasoline model, the XC60. That car, Volvo’s smallest SUV, while not a hulk compared to other gas-chugging models, is a powerful and well-appointed SUV crossover that’s made its reputation in the States by offering performance, status and rugged good looks all rolled into one.


image via Volvo

Volvo’s new Plug-In Concept also happens to be the American cousin of Volvo’s V60 plug-in hybrid, which was scheduled to be made available to European consumers this fall. The major difference? The European version features a diesel engine while the brand new American Concept has to settle for a gas-powered motor box.

Volvo is plugging their new XC60 Concept as an electric car, a highly economical hybrid and a powerful, high-performance SUV all rolled into one. The new Concept is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 280-horsepower matched to an electric motor powered by a 12 KwH lithium-ion battery pack that adds an extra 70 horses.

With the front wheels powered by the gas turbo and the back wheels pushed by the electric motor, all that get up and go is run through Volvo’s super-smooth eight (yes eight!) speed transmission that will gallop from zero to 60 mph in a much-more-than-respectable 5.8 seconds. Volvo claims that this forthcoming combo produces the same performance as today’s six cylinder gas engines.

“It’s time to stop counting cylinders,” claims Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo. “Four-cylinder engines are the most effective way to quickly reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption without compromising customer expectations when it comes to driving pleasure and performance.”


image via Volvo

Of course, this is a Volvo and that means you don’t always need to be squealing the tires pulling away from the the twin’s soccer practice. The new Concept offer three operational modes. In “Pure” the car runs as an electric vehicle, drawing power solely from the battery with an expected range of about 35 miles. Switch over to “Hybrid” mode and the Volvo uses a stop/start combination of both the gas engine and the electric motor offering an estimated 50 mpg and a 600-mile range in combined city and highway driving. If you really want to unleash all those horses, switch over to “Power” mode where that combined 350 horsepower is just under your right foot.

Volvo hasn’t yet officially confirmed that the XC60 Plug-In Concept is scheduled for production, but it’s a good bet that we may see this SUV on American roads within the next few years as Volvo seems fully committed to this technology and already has a very close model on the road in Europe.

recent statement by the company underscores that Volvo’s North American dealers are looking forward to the new EV SUV. “From a U.S. market perspective, a gasoline plug-in hybrid would be an excellent addition to our product offer,” says Patty Hooley, member of the Dealer Council of Volvo Cars North America.