Volvo has confirmed that it will begin offering its brand of hybrid-powered vehicles in the U.S. market sometime in 2012. While the Swedish automaker plans to commence a fairly intensive "greening" effort in Europe starting next year with the arrival of higher-mileage/lower-emission DRIVe turbodiesel versions of the C30, S40 and V50 models, formal hybrid packages aren't due to appear on the continent until shortly before they are introduced here.

Volvo's hybrid design employs a sophisticated parallel configuration that matches an internal combustion engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor to power the rears. While both gasoline and turbodiesel engines are under development, what pairing we see in America has yet to be determined. Although no detail specifics were revealed, Volvo did indicate that the system will permit pure-electric operation under low-speed situations, add an extra measure of acceleration when needed and enhance the safety margin by delivering the extra security of all-wheel drive when road conditions warrant.

Beyond cutting critical CO2 emission levels using super-clean, mileage-making turbodiesels that go on sale throughout Europe starting in January, Volvo will also introduce its version of parent-company Ford's Eco-Boost technology under the GTDi (Gas Turbo Direct-injection) banner, a move that will permit trimming engine displacement and cylinder count on its larger models while upping their fuel economy by 20-30 percent. By 2011, the firm also plans to introduce its "micro-hybrid" system on both Euro and U.S. models. This fully transparent start/stop package would be the first to be used with a manual transmission as well as with automatic applications.

Once its formal hybrid models are launched, Volvo will bring a plug-in electric package to market, a technology that it debuted at last-year's Frankfurt Auto Show as the ReCharge concept. Volvo's overall status in the alternative transport game recently got a boost when Ford announced that it would establish its European Hybrid Center in the automaker's home town of Gothenburg.
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