Starting in 2019, every Volvo will come standard with a battery and an electric motor. Some will be hybrids, some will be plug-in hybrids, and some will be pure electric cars. The company, which has been owned by Geely since 2010, says it will introduce 5 all-electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three will branded as Volvos and two will carry the Polestar logo. Polestar started as an independent tuning operation. Volvo bought the company recently and says it will become a separate brand for high-performance electric cars going forward.
Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo, says, “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine powered car. Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it, we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”
The announcement has been hailed by Greenpeace. “Volvo has recognized the huge gains to be made by leading the way in electric. We know electric vehicles are the future, and it’s not a case of if, but when, old-style cars powered by climate-wrecking fossil fuels will be a thing of the past,” said Paul Morozzo, a campaigner at the group.
Volvo is not giving up on internal combustion engines entirely. They will be part of the mix for quite a while as the world transitions from the conventional cars of today to the zero-emissions electric cars of tomorrow, according to the company. Volvo has been a leader at squeezing high performance out of low-emissions engines, by using advanced engineering. On many of its cars, it combines a turbocharger for good power at normal road speeds with an electric supercharger to boost engine power when a car is stopped or traveling slowly. The supercharger helps reduce turbo lag caused by the fact that turbochargers are ineffective at low rpms.
When Volvo introduced its T8 Twin Engine powertrain (a plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines an electric motor with a compound turbocharged engine) in its top-of-the-line XC90 SUV last year, it expected only 5% to 10% of buyers choosing that option. But nearly a quarter of XC90 customers have done so, even though the package costs considerably more than the base model of the same car.
Geely also owns The London Taxi Company and has invested nearly $400 million into an all-new factory to build the TX5, a plug-in hybrid version of the iconic London taxi that will have significantly lower emissions than the diesel-powered cabs that have plied the streets of London for the past 40 years. London will require all new cabs to be battery powered starting on January 1, 2018.