The internal combustion engine’s end has been announced and retracted more often than you’ve started your own car, but Volvo may well be the first major brand to demonstrate that gasoline is not a necessity. Some brands have tried to meet U.S. standards by cheating with diesel, but in 2019, every Volvo released will be at least partially electric. This will be the first step in a dramatic journey that will end in autonomous vehicles, which will be entirely battery powered.
Diesel and gasoline are already on their way out in Germany, so it’s not as impossible a strategy as you might think. The electrified future won’t happen without a goal-driven commitment, and Volvo’s is elegantly practical. Mild hybrid systems will be made optional for every Volvo in the near future, after which five fully electric vehicles will be released. Two of these will come from Volvo’s performance division, Polestar.
By 2025, Volvo intends to have sold a million electrified cars, a number that the public will hopefully turn into a reality. The strategy makes sense for Volvo, which currently has a relatively small market share. If it can grab the majority of the electrified car market first, it could become a global leader.
There is, of course, little alternative. Regulations are stacking up for gas and diesel alternatives already, and demand is petering out. Paris and Belgium, for example, will ban diesel by 2025, and Europe’s sales for these cars has dropped sharply. Consumers in China buy up half the world’s electric vehicles, and even United States branches of international automakers have figured out how to offset the expense of R&D and manufacturing: market electric vehicles to luxury car enthusiasts.
Volvo is simply planning a shift that will ultimately be a necessity anyway, and all in exchange for a powerful marketing opportunity: to become the first auto maker to go fully electric. This should attract fresh investments.