Volvo Will Say Goodbye to Internal Combustion in 2019

Volvo has announced a new strategy that puts electrification at the core of its business strategy and has pledged to discontinue development on internal combustion engines.

Volvo Cars made a historic announcement on July 5 that every car it produces from 2019 forward will have an electric motor. In response to what Volvo President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said has been a clear increase in consumer demand as well as a "commitment towards reducing our carbon footprint as well as contributing to better air quality in our cities,” the Swedish automaker will cease production of pure internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and will not be planning any new developments into diesel engines.

Volvo believes it will see the most initial volume in stepping stone, 48-volt mild hybrid electric vehicles as it moves away from ICE vehicles. (Image source: Volvo Cars) 

Instead the company will begin producing three levels of electric vehicles (mild, Twin Engine, and fully electric) and has committed to bringing out one million Twin Engine or all-electric cars out onto the roads until 2025, according to Samuelsson. Between 2019 and 2021 Volvo plans to launch five fully electric cars, three of which will be Volvo models and two that will be high performance electric vehicles from Polestar, Volvo's performance car division. Samuelsson said all of these electric vehciels will be new models and not necessarily new stylings of existing Volvo models.

Technical details on the vehicles were sparse during a press conference held by Volvo, but the company did offer some information about its three electric vehicle tiers. The mild electric vehicles, which Volvo views as a stepping stone away from ICEs, will feature a 48-volt system that will utlize a battery in conjunction with a system that will function as a starter, generator, and electric motor all in one and the Twin Engine will be a plug-in hybrid system. During the press conference Henrik Green, Senior VP of R&D at Volvo, said the company will be aiming to provide a “very competitive range” with these new vehicles, which he said will be available in medium range and long range – at least up to 500 kilometers (about 311 miles) on a charge. Green said Volvo has not yet settled on a battery supplier, but said the company is looking at all available suppliers for the best option. “ When it comes to batteries of course it's a highly competitive and important component in all the future pure battery electric vehicles,” he said. Samuelsson added that this should also be taken as an invitation for more companies to invest in battery research and development. “We need new players and competition in battery manufacturing,” Samuelsson said.

This new announcement represents a dramatic shift in point of view for Volvo. Back in 2014 Samuelsson said the company didn't believe in all-electric vehicles and said that hybrids were the way forward. Why the change of heart? Samuelsson told the press conference audience that Volvo was initially skeptical about the cost level of batteries and the lack of infrastructure to for recharging electric cars. “Things have moved faster, costumer demand has increased, battery costs have come down and there is movement now in charging infrastructure,” he said.

Volvo did not unveil any details on vehicle costs. However, earlier reports from the Geneva Motor Show in March quoted Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Car USA, as saying that the company's first all-electric vehicle would have a range of at least 250 miles and price point of between 35,000 and $40,000 when it is released in 2019.

 


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Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.  

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