You’ll Be Able to Buy Any Volvo as an Electric by 2019
Volvo will introduce a plug-in hybrid version of every model it sells within four years, and expects them to account for 10 percent of its sales by 2020.
It’s a bold step for a brand that is known more for safety innovations, not drivetrains, and has made a bid to eliminate crash-related fatalities in its cars by 2020. The Swedish automaker also plans to introduce a pure electric vehicle by 2019, but offered no details in Thursday’s announcement about what that car might look like.
“We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream,” says Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s president and CEO.
The first Volvos to get plugs will be the S90 and S60 sedans and XC90 SUV, which arrives in the US this fall. It goes 27 miles in pure electric mode with an 87-horsepower motor that augments the 400-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.
What makes so rapid a shift to an alternative drivetrain feasible is Volvo’s new “Scalable Product Architecture.” The platform, which will underpin most models going forward, is the first tangible result of an $11 billion investment by Chinese automaker Geely, which bought Volvo in 2010. It was designed from the start to accommodate electrification, as was the Compact Modular Architecture platform of the upcoming, smaller 40 series cars.
Plug-in hybrids are a good way for automakers to meet increasingly strict carbon emission standards in the US and Europe, as well as China, where regulators are pushing for more electric vehicles. They run on gas or electricity, so consumers need not face range anxiety. Volvo says drivers will be able to do half of their driving in fully electric mode. “Our plug-in hybrids already offer a real alternative to conventional powertrain systems,” says the company’s head of R&D, Dr. Peter Mertens.
Volkswagen made a similar announcement earlier this week, albeit under vastly different circumstances. Now that the public knows it cheated emissions testing on 11 million diesel-powered cars, VW says it will increase its focus on building hybrids and PHEVs.
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