Volvo announcied this morning that all of its models produced after 2019 will be either electric or hybrid.
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” Volvo Cars president and CEO HåkanSamuelsson said in a statement. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it, we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”
The Swedish-based automaker, which was acquired by China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2010, also announced it will launch five models from 2019 through 2021 — three of them Volvos and two Polestar-branded high-performance vehicles, Reuters’ Niklas Pollard reports.
“This is about the customer,” said Samuelsson. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”
“Nearly 265,000 pure-electric vehicles were sold in China last year, versus 110,000 in all of Europe, according to data compiled by EV-Volumes.com. Globally, the market for pure-electric cars is tiny, accounting for less than 1% of sales last year, but the market is growing quickly,” reports Patrick McGee for Financial Times.
“From January to March, global sales of plug-in vehicles — comprising EVs and plug-in hybrids — rose 40% to 191,700 units, according to EV-Volumes.com. If the growth rate since 2013 were to continue, then eight out of 10 cars sold in 2030 would be plug-ins.”
Bear in mind that the increase comes with gas prices low and EV prices still at a premium,
“All major auto makers are preparing for a shift to electric vehicles, but the challenge for the industry is to get the timing right because of the industry’s typically long product cycles that involve years of research and development before a vehicle rolls off the assembly,” observes William Boston for the Wall Street Journal.
“Auto executives talk about an impending ‘tipping point’ when the costs of some electric car models are expected to fall below the cost of the conventional version of the same vehicle type. When that happens, industry executives and analysts say momentum could shift quickly in favor of electric cars.”
That could be as soon as 2025, Boston writes, pointing out that the $35,000, the Tesla Model 3 that goes into production this week “is only slightly more expensive than BMW AG’s 3-Series sedan with a gasoline or diesel engine.”
The Big Three have been scrambling to stay in the race for both electric and autonomous vehicles, of course, against global competition from both traditional competitors and tech companies. Indeed “rapid advances in self-driving cars will also encourage a shift to battery power: It is simpler to link self-driving software to an electric motor than to a conventional internal combustion engine,” Jack Ewing reports for the New York Times.
“BMW has said an electric model dubbed the iNext will replace the 7-Series as its flagship in 2021,” point out Elisabeth Behrmann and Nicolas Rolander. “Daimler AG’s Mercedes plans to release 10 new electric vehicles by 2022, earlier than previously announced. Both carmakers expect battery-powered cars to account for as much 25% of sales in about 10 years. Audi has said every model line will have a hybrid or purely battery-powered variant by 2020.”
“As well as a shift west — from Detroit to California's Silicon Valley, where Tesla is based — Volvo's electric move underlines a shift eastwards, to China. Geely, Volvo's Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade,” points out the BBC’s Dominic O'Connell.
“Volvo Cars has said it is committed to help improve the environment and make cities cleaner by reducing carbon emissions, aiming to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025,” the AP’s Matti Huuhtanen writes. “Last year, the company had record sales of 534,332 cars in 100 countries, up more than 6% from 2015.”
Environmentalists applauded today’s announcement.
“Greenpeace hailed move by Volvo, and said other manufacturer should follow suit,” reports Adam Vaughan for The Guardian.
“Volvo has recognized 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,” said Paul Morozzo, a clean-air campaigner at the group.