Next Volvo XC90 offered as a plug-in hybrid

* New SUV gets plug-in hybrid engine * Rolled out to other models before 2017 * Two more concept cars due in 2014...

Next Volvo XC90 offered as a plug-in hybrid

Volvo has confirmed the new XC90 SUV will feature the same plug-in hybrid technology that appears in the Concept Coupe currently being shown at the Frankfurt motor show.

The new plug-in hybrid engine will appear first in the SUV, before being rolled out across other next-generation models due before 2017.

Volvo's vice-president of powertrain engineering, Derek Crabb, told What Car? that the company's new modular chassis platform was designed specifically with hybrid drivetrains in mind. This meant incorporating enough space to accommodate the engine, batteries and generators, without sacrificing practicality. The new platform can only accommodate four-cylinder (or smaller) engines.

In the future, a four-cylinder S60 T6 plug-in hybrid may appear, although it would be detuned compared with the Concept Coupe's 395bhp output. An output closer to 340bhp is more likely, which is nearer to the current T6 R-Design model.

Crabb believes that the maximum output for a Volvo depends on whether it's a useable amount, rather than whether it's possible to engineer: 'How much power can you really put through all four wheels onto a wet road in the UK?'.

The new XC90 will be revealed next year, although it won't go on sale until 2015. It will also be the first Volvo fitted with self-driving technology, which will be able to steer the car and keep it moving in low-speed congestion.

The Concept Coupe is the first in a series of three concept cars that will showcase the versatility of Volvo’s new chassis platform. The second concept is due at Detroit in January 2014 and the third car at Geneva in March 2014. Next year's concepts will hint at next-generation crossover and estate cars.