Volvo goes electrified, ditches cars powered solely by gas

HELSINKI (AP) — Volvo plans to build only electrified and hybrid vehicles embarking in 2019, making it the very first major automaker to abandon cars and SUVs powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the budge was dictated by customer request. It means that in two years, all fresh Volvo vehicles will have some form of electrified propulsion.

The announcement comes as the global auto industry leisurely moves toward electric-powered vehicles after more than a century of using engines that burn only fossil fuels. Even however sales are a fraction of conventional autos, companies must sell them to meet fuel economy and emissions regulations. In some markets electrical vehicles are eyeing enhanced request.


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Yet the transition to fully electrified vehicles will take years. Albeit Tesla Inc. has announced a $35,000 electrified car for the masses and General Motors Co. is selling the all-electric Chevy Bolt for a similar price, less-expensive hybrids are likely to sell more at least in the brief run.

Still, other automakers are likely to go after Volvo’s announcement in a few years, said Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst for Navigant Research, with luxury automakers leading the way.

“I think we’ll very likely see most of the premium brands do the same thing in harshly the same time framework,” he said. “More high-volume mainstream brands will be a little slower.”

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In order to meet government fuel economy requirements worldwide, automakers are developing more hybrid systems. Many are 48-volt “mild hybrids” that assist a gas engine to stir a car to make it more efficient, improving gas mileage by ten or fifteen percent, Abuelsamid said.

Such systems generate enough electro-therapy to permit automakers to budge functions such as air conditioners and water and oil pumps to electrified power, getting rid of mechanical belts that are a haul on the engine. Those systems can run only when needed, and that can save another two or three percent on fuel consumption — so a vehicle that gets twenty mpg could get about another four miles per gallon, he said.

European luxury brands such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz already are rolling out mild hybrid cars in Europe. Those systems likely will be coming to the U.S. because it’s expensive for the companies to build different cars for different markets, Abuelsamid said. General Motors and others already have such systems as options on some models in the U.S.

All manufacturers are moving toward more hybrids, but the transition to one hundred percent electrical vehicles is still years away, said Darren Jukes, head of industrial products for the accounting rigid PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I don’t think we’re watching the end of combustion engines just yet,” Jukes said.

Fully electrical and hybrid vehicle sales have risen a little since two thousand twelve but still accounted for only Two.6 million, or about three percent of worldwide fresh vehicle sales, last year. Navigant predicts that will increase to around Three.7 million in two thousand eighteen and to more than nine million by 2025. That’s about nine percent of sales.

Volvo’s announcement, coupled with some negative analyst notes and Monday’s announcement of lower than expected production, weighed on Tesla’s stock Wednesday. Shares of the Palo Alto, California, company closed down 7.Two percent to $327.09.

Volvo, which is based in Sweden but possessed by Chinese rock-hard Geely, will launch five fully electrified cars inbetween two thousand nineteen and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ spectacle car arm. It also plans to suggest a range of hybrids as options, expecting to sell one million electrified cars by 2025.

The company said its long range models could travel five hundred kilometers (310 miles) on a single charge using current technology, but it is looking for suppliers of fresh and better batteries.

Samuelsson, who acknowledged that the company had been skeptical about electrification only two years ago, said circumstances have switched. “Things have moved quicker; customer request is enhancing,” he said.

Last year, Volvo sold 534,332 cars in one hundred countries, up more than six percent from 2015.

Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed to this report from Detroit. Movie Journalist Kevin Scott contributed from London.

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