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Volvo Electrifying Entire Lineup in 2019, But Gas Isn’t Dead

By: · July 5, 2017

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 AWD plug-in hybrid

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Starting in 2019, every new Volvo will incorporate at least one electric motor in the drivetrain, although the news doesn’t spell sudden death for the company’s four-cylinder engines.

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President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson says this “marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” which is a grandiose way to introduce his company’s full commitment to hybrids and EVs. Volvo will introduce five all-electric models between 2019 and 2021, two of which will sit under its redefined Polestar brand of high-performance EVs. Everything else will be a plug-in hybrid or a traditional hybrid based on upgraded 48-volt electrical architectures (like that in the 2018 Audi A8). While Volvo remains bullish on its goal for 1 million electrified sales by 2025 and likens the future gas- and diesel-powered hybrids as second fiddle to the full EVs, the automaker can’t afford any decline in traditional powertrains just as it can’t expect a dramatic industry shift to EVs in just four years.

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Last year, Volvo said plug-in hybrids would account for 10 percent of its annual car sales starting sometime early next decade. We also knew Volvo would launch one EV in 2019 and begin to offer two plug-in hybrids on every model. But with sales growing—almost entirely thanks to the company’s fresh designs and 2.0-liter engines it can easily sell in all global markets—Volvo’s profit depends on massive volumes of its pretty, fossil-fueled machines. While Volvo designed its Scalable Product Architecture (and new, smaller Compact Modular Architecture) to easily accommodate all-electric, hybrid, and gas-only powertrains, the company is launching the new 40-series and 60-series before any dedicated EVs arrive. With the new XC60, XC90, and S90/V90 keeping the Gothenburg plant churning, don’t think the new Volvo EVs will end up displacing these core gas-powered models as radically as Samuelsson suggests.

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As a smaller, niche-driven luxury brand, Volvo has a long way to go before it reaches 1 million annual sales—it hit 534,000 in 2016, trailing Jaguar Land Rover—let alone the 1 million electrified cars it wants to put on the road. But Samuelsson is pushing hard. “When we said it we meant it,” he said. “This is how we are going to do it.”

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Filed under: News,Volvo

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