Volvo is to ditch all petrol and diesel cars from 2019
All Volvo car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids, the Chinese-owned company said yesterday, making it the first major traditional car-maker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.
The Sweden-based company will continue to produce pure combustion-engine Volvos from models launched before that date, but its move signals the eventual end of nearly a century of Volvos powered solely that way.
While electric and hybrid vehicles are still only a small fraction of new car sales, they are gaining ground at the premium end of the market, where Volvo operates and where Elon Musk's Tesla Motors has been a pure-play battery car-maker from day one. As technology improves and prices fall, many in the industry expect mass-market adoption to follow.
"This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.
The company, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said five new models which are set to be launched in 2019 through 2021 - three of them Volvos and two Polestar-branded - would all be fully electric.
"These five cars will be supplemented by a range of petrol and diesel plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid 48-volt options on all models," Volvo said. "This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor."
The electric models will be produced at Volvo plants world-wide - it has factories in Europe and China and is building one in the United States - while development costs will be met from within its existing budget, Samuelsson told Reuters.
"This also means we won't be doing other things. We, of course, will not be developing completely new generations of combustion engines," he said in relation to future investment needs.
Volvo has invested heavily in new models and plants since being bought by Geely from Ford in 2010, establishing a niche in a premium auto market dominated by larger rivals, such as Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Part of its strategy has also been to embrace emerging technologies that allow higher-performance electric vehicles as well as, eventually, self-driving cars.