In a landmark move, Volvo becomes the first major car manufacturer to stop making cars solely powered by petrol or diesel.
Every car sold by Volvo from 2019 onwards will either be fully electric or have a hybrid engine, in what the company has labelled a “historic end” to building cars with just an internal combustion engine.
Volvo will launch five new fully electric car models between 2019 and 2021, and will make sure that the existing range of diesel and petrol models will have some form of hybrid engine.
Two of the new 100% electric cars will be in the company’s high-performance Polestar sub-brand, which is being revived.
The existing range will be available with “plug-in hybrid” power trains and 48-volt “mild hybrid” systems, which can provide an extra acceleration kick as well as being able to operate as a sole power system.
This means that there will be an environmentally-friendly option on every Volvo car from 2019 onwards.
Volvo chief executive Håkan Samuelsson said:
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car. Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1m electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”
Volvo has never built a fully electric car before, but the decision to go all-electric seems to be driven by the success of their current hybrid range.
More than 25% of the sales of their crossover SUV XC90 were the plug-in hybrid version – much more than the 5%-10% of sales they were expecting. With the XC90 costing more than £13,000 more than the diesel version, it suggests that consumers are willing to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly version.
“This is about the customer. People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”
The move has seen Volvo jump ahead of the likes of BMW, VW and Renault-Nissan, who have all been keen recently to trump up their own electric car ambitions – all supported by government grants and with added impetus following the VW emissions scandal that hit the industry in 2015.
— Volvo Cars (@volvocarsglobal) July 5, 2017
The landmark announcement by Volvo sends a strong message to the car industry and to motorists that the firm is fully committed to the electric car revolution that many insiders believe is about to turn the industry upside down.
“Customer demand was behind this but it also tells investors in infrastructure such as charging points and battery technology that we believe electric is the future and they can count on Volvo to back them,” Mr Samuelsson added.
The demand for electric cars has already began to show on the market, with the number of new electric car registrations breaking the 2 million mark last year – in 2005 the amount of electric cars sold in the world was less than 1,000.
However, a report published this week shows that some parts of the world are moving towards the adoption of electric cars a lot faster than others.
For example, in the EU as a whole last year a total of 1.9% of all new car purchases were for hybrids, 0.7% for plug-in hybrids and 0.6% were pure electric. In Norway a full 15.7% of new car sales were fully electric models, showing they lead the pack when it comes to electric vehicles – Britain came third in the chart.
In response to Volvo’s announcement, Greenpeace hailed the move, with campaigner Paul Morozzo saying:
“Volvo has recognised the huge gains to be made by leading the way in electric. We know electric vehicles are the future, and it’s not a case of if, but when, old-style cars powered by climate-wrecking fossil fuels will be a thing of the past”