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Volvo announces plan to abandon combustion engines

July 7, 2017 0 Comments

In an electrifying announcement on Wednesday, Volvo said that every new vehicle it produces from 2019 onward will be at least partly electric “either as a mild hybrid with a 48-volt electrical system, a plug-in hybrid, or as an all-electric vehicle”, making the Swedish automaker the first to commit to only using alternative drivetrains.

The automaker is “[making] no bones” about saying their farewells to internal combustion. It’s an ambitious plan on Volvo’s part, switching their entire fleet over to electric vehicles in just a few years, but with Tesla cruising past Ford and neck-and-neck with General Motors as “America’s largest automaker by market value,” the combustion engine is on its way out.

“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 1 million electrified cars by 2025,” said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”

Volvo announced plans for five new electric and hybrid vehicles between 2019 and 2021, with two being sold by Polestar – set to become its own subsidiary and brand selling electric vehicles.

According to Automotive News, Volvo expects to stop selling non-electric cars/vehicles that only run on internal combustion power between 2023 and 2025. Also confirmed they aren’t “developing a new family of internal-combustion engines either.”

The end of internal combustion engines seems inevitable, as electric and hybrid vehicles have some advantages “from a manufacturing and performance standpoint” and the fact that the industry has invested pretty heavily in autonomous vehicle technology.

While Volvo isn’t the first automaker to move towards electric vehicles, its announcement is the “strongest sign yet we’ve seen that the purely combustion engine’s days might be numbered sooner, rather than later,” according to Techcrunch. Many automakers will soon offer 48-volt mild hybrids, but Volvo is leading the pack, ready to “phase out” internal combustion engines completely.

That said, other automakers are “weaning” themselves off of traditional combustion engines. Daimler also said on Wednesday that it plans to invest 5 million Chinese renminbi (or $740 million) into a Chinese battery plant to run with China-based BAIC, with the partners planning to sell electric vehicles under the Mercedes-Benz brand by 2020.

The “Big Three” U.S. automakers are shifting their investments towards electric vehicles as well. General Motors started selling the Chevrolet Bolt, and Ford has plans to spend $4.5 billion on 13 new electric vehicles over the next five years, including a hybrid version of the Mustang muscle car and the F-150 pickup.

Fiat-Chrysler also announced plans for some hybrid models, like the Pacifica minivan, but has not yet revealed plans for an all-electric car.

Volvo, owned by China-based Geely Holding Group since 2010, has already been developing some electric vehicles, including a variant of the C30 hatchback and a hybrid-diesel version of the V60 station wagon.

Why should they shift their focus to electric vehicles? Emissions requirements for vehicles are getting stronger and are “set to tighten in most key international markets, including China.” Additionally, production costs for electric vehicle parts are decreasing as “capacity and manufacturing process improve.”

“Many of the luxury brands are going to move in this direction over time just because their consumers really demand performance,” said Brett Smith from the Center for Automotive Research. “ In China right now, there is an enormous amount of enthusiasm for electrification.”

With the demand for green vehicles rising in China with forecasts “calling for sales of 580,000 units” this year, it’s a good time for Volvo to make a play for a leadership position in the automotive market and put their money where their mouth is.

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