This is the future: Volvo follows Musk, abandons internal combustion engine

LONDON — Where South African-born super entrepreneur Elon Musk goes, the rest of the world eventually follows. Or so it would seem after Volvo today announced that within two years all of the 535 000 cars it makes annually will have electric engines. Since its creation 90 years ago, the Swedish headquartered multinational has been a leader in applying new technology to the carbon fuel-charged internal combustion engine. Its wholesale switch to electric is the first by any major premium car maker. Volvo’s decision confirms what Musk has been trying to prove since starting Tesla Motors 14 years ago – that the impact of the electric engine will be to automobiles what the internet has been to newspapers. Seismic. – Alec Hogg    

By Elisabeth Behrmann and Niclas Rolander

(Bloomberg) — Volvo is phasing out cars that rely on combustion engines, with every new model launched from 2019 to have an electric motor, as the shift away from the technology that’s dominated the auto industry for more than a century gathers pace.

Promising the “historic end” of cars that only have combustion engines, Volvo Car Group will introduce five electric models by 2021 and offer hybrid options across its product line, according to a statement on Wednesday.

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” Volvo Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson said in the statement. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025. This is how we are going to do it.”

Conventional automakers from BMW AG to Volkswagen AG’s Audi are electrifying their line-ups to meet tightening emissions regulations and better compete with segment pioneer Tesla Inc., which starts making its third model this week. In an effort to woo reluctant customers, manufacturers are offering longer driving ranges and more attractive designs.

BMW has said an electric model dubbed the iNext will replace the 7-Series as its flagship in 2021. 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 percent of sales in about ten years. Audi has said every model line will have a hybrid or purely battery-powered variant by 2020.

Volvo, which is owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, said in April that its first electric vehicle will be a Chinese-made compact car that starts deliveries in 2019. The model will be exported globally and be based on the platform of the company’s XC40 compact SUV. China is becoming the biggest market for electric cars, and authorities are looking at ambitious production quotas that would be enforced with fines on manufacturers.

Of the five new cars, two will be part of Volvo’s high-performance Polestar sub-brand, and they will be supplemented by a range of gasoline and diesel plug-in hybrid and 48-volt options on all models.

“This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor,” Volvo said in the statement.

Volvo’s Full Statement:

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, has announced that every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.

The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history.

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars Group, looks on ahead of a Bloomberg Television interview on the first day of the 87th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Volvo Cars will introduce a portfolio of electrified cars across its model range, embracing fully electric cars, plug in hybrid cars and mild hybrid cars.

It will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvo models and two of which will be high performance electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm. Full details of these models will be announced at a later date.

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, representing one of the broadest electrified car offerings of any car maker.

This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor, as pure ICE cars are gradually phased out and replaced by ICE cars that are enhanced with electrified options.

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Mr Samuelsson. “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.”

The announcement underlines Volvo Cars’ commitment to minimising its environmental impact and making the cities of the future cleaner. Volvo Cars is focused on reducing the carbon emissions of both its products as well as its operations. It aims to have climate neutral manufacturing operations by 2025.

The decision also follows this month’s announcement that Volvo Cars will turn Polestar into a new separately-branded electrified global high performance car company. Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Cars, will lead Polestar as Chief Executive Officer.

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