Before then backtracking a bit for whatever reason, the CEO of Volvo Cars was quoted by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying that the company’s current generation of diesel engines was likely its last.
The quote from the CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, read: “From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new-generation diesel engines.”
As noted above, though, this was quickly accompanied/refuted by a public statement from a Volvo Cars spokesperson that the CEO was simply discussing options, and that there were no plans to stop developing diesel engines.
This was also communicated in an email sent by Samuelsson to Reuters, where “he” stated that he believed that diesel would be a crucial part of the company’s plans for the next few years, and would help “the company meet targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, being more fuel-efficient than a petrol engine,” as paraphrased by Reuters.
So, what’s going on here? Did Samuelsson say something that he wasn’t supposed to in the first interview?
The email from the CEO included this line: “We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required.”
Did execs get worried that his comments would lead to a backing away from this new generation of diesel vehicles by consumers? Who knows, but that seems a fair guess.
The Reuters coverage provides more: “In the FAZ interview Samuelsson said Volvo would continue improving the current range, first introduced in 2013, to meet future emissions standards, with production likely to go on until about 2023. And until 2020 he said diesel would be needed to help meet carbon dioxide emission limits set by the European Union, but after that other regulations would come into play, with the costs of making engines compliant with ever higher anti-pollution standards meaning it would no longer be worth it.”
Rather, Samuelsson indicated Volvo work to release compelling plug-in electric models, which then led him to reference Tesla’s success to date in this line: “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”
That would be a fair guess, presuming the company doesn’t take too long to enter the market. As it stands, Volvo Cars is planning to release its first all-electric model in 2019.
It’s noteworthy here, though, that around 90% of the XC90s that Volvo Cars sells in Europe are of the diesel engine variant.