Volvo to launch only electric models from 2019

The decision makes Sweden-based company the first major traditional automaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Volvo has also said it will build its first fully electric car in China and it will be available for sale in 2019.

All Volvo car models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids, the Chinese-owned company said on Wednesday.

The decision makes Volvo the first major traditional automaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

"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 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 worldwide – it has factories in Europe and China and is building one in the US – while development costs will be met from within its existing budget, Samuelsson said.

"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 about future investment needs.

Combustion-engine Volvos

The Sweden-based company will continue to produce pure combustion-engine Volvos from models launched before the date of going all electric. The move signals the eventual end of nearly a century of Volvos powered solely that way.

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.

Only last month, Volvo said it would reshape its Polestar business into a standalone brand, focused on high-performance electric cars aimed at competing with Tesla and the Mercedes AMG division.

Volvo has also said it will build its first fully electric car in China based on its architecture for smaller cars which will be available for sale in 2019 and exported globally.

While electric and hybrid vehicles are still only a small fraction of new cars 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 carmaker from day one.

As technology improves and prices fall, many in the industry expect mass-market adoption to follow.

Source: 
Reuters