Volvo is done with entirely traditional engines and exclusively gas-powered vehicles, the company announced. By 2019, Volvo group intends to offer only either fully electric or hybrid engines on all new models, making it the first automaker to commit to using only alternative drive trains.
The end of the solely combustion engine-powered car did seem like an eventual inevitability, given the advantages of electric and hybrid from a manufacturing and performance standpoint, and given the industry’s heavy investment in autonomous vehicle tech. But for Volvo to commit to going entirely hybrid and electric just two years from now is still the strongest sign yet we’ve seen that the purely combustion engine’s days might be numbered sooner, rather than later.
Volvo already had a target sales figure of 1 million electric and hybrid cars by 2025, and now that target seems well within reach given it’s all it’ll be selling in terms of new vehicles. Volvo also announced it would launch five new electric and hybrid cars between 2019 and 2021, and that two of those will be made by Polestar, which the company recently announced would become its own subsidiary and brand selling performance EVs, likely to compete with high-end Tesla models.
Part of the cost benefit of making electric cars is dealing with ever stronger emissions requirements on vehicles, which are set to tighten in most key international markets, including China, which is where Volvo’s owner Geely is based. Production costs of EV parts and batteries are also getting smaller, as capacity and manufacturing processes improve.
Volvo getting a jump on the move to electric, with hybrids included as a transitional stopgap, is a smart and aggressive play for claiming a leadership position in the market of the future. A lot of companies talk about their work with, and commitment to alternative drivetrains, but this is really putting your money where you mouth is.