In a bold move towards sustainability, Volvo Cars has unveiled an ambitious roadmap to sell only fully electric cars by 2030 and become a climate-neutral company by 2040. This transformation plan positions Volvo as one of the pioneers among legacy car manufacturers.
To reinforce its commitment to these goals, Volvo Cars announced at Climate Week NYC that it will cease production of all diesel-powered models by early 2024. This decision makes Volvo one of the first traditional carmakers to take such a drastic step, and this is an even bigger deal for global markets
This milestone follows Volvo’s previous announcement in 2022 to discontinue the development of new internal combustion engines. By selling its stake in Aurobay, the joint venture responsible for its remaining combustion engine assets, Volvo redirected its focus entirely towards electric powertrains.
Jim Rowan, Chief Executive at Volvo Cars, emphasized the superiority of electric powertrains, stating that they offer reduced noise, vibration, servicing costs, and zero tailpipe emissions. He added that Volvo is determined to build a comprehensive portfolio of premium electric vehicles that fulfill customer expectations and address the urgent issue of climate change.
“Electric powertrains are our future, and superior to combustion engines: they generate less noise, less vibration, less servicing costs for our customers and zero tailpipe emissions,” said Rowan. “We’re fully focused on creating a broad portfolio of premium, fully electric cars that deliver on everything our customers expect from a Volvo – and are a key part of our response to climate change.”
The company says that the Global Climate Stocktake report released by the United Nations underscores the pressing need for action in the face of the climate emergency. In light of this, Jim Rowan stressed the importance of leadership from both industry and political figures, urging them to implement substantial policies and initiatives to combat climate change. Volvo Cars aims to lead by example and encourages other companies and political leaders to follow suit.
To further emphasize its commitment, Volvo Cars’ chief sustainability officer, Anders Kärrberg, will participate in an event organized by the Accelerating to Zero (A2Z) Coalition during Climate Week NYC. The A2Z Coalition, established at the COP27 climate summit, serves as a collaborative platform for signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Vehicles. The coalition aims to achieve 100% global new car and van sales free of tailpipe emissions by 2040, with leading markets achieving this goal by no later than 2035.
While Volvo’s own electrification target is even more ambitious, the company hopes that its actions, including the announcement to phase out diesel vehicles, as well as its involvement in A2Z discussions and other Climate Week NYC events, will inspire other companies to take bolder action against climate change.
“What the world needs now, at this critical time for our planet and humanity, is leadership,” says Jim Rowan. “It is high time for industry and political leaders to be strong and decisive, and deliver meaningful policies and actions to fight climate change. We’re committed to doing our part and encourage our peers as well as political leaders around the globe to do theirs.”
Why This Matters
If you’re an EV fanatic, it probably seems like the time to ditch diesel was two decades ago, or maybe a decade ago if we’re being generous. But, at the same time, many people went down the wrong road with diesel in the 2010s.
Volvo’s decision to completely eliminate diesel-powered cars by early 2024 reflects the rapidly changing landscape of the automotive industry and evolving customer demands in response to the climate crisis. Merely four years ago, diesel engines dominated Volvo’s sales in Europe, as was the case for many other automakers.
Volvo says that market dynamics, stricter emission regulations, and Volvo’s commitment to electrification have led to a significant shift over the last four years. Today, the majority of Volvo’s sales in Europe consist of electrified vehicles, including fully electric or plug-in hybrid models.
But, what they’re not discussing is the diesel elephant in the room: the Dieselgate scandal and other diesel scandals. Years ago, everyone was led to believe that diesel had cleaned up its act. Better technology supposedly made it possible to meet emissions regulations, and progress toward alternatives seemed to be stalled out.
But, Volkswagen and some of the others were actually cheating. The car’s computer could tell when you were putting it on a dyno for emissions testing, and it would go into a lower power mode that produced far less emissions. But, student researchers were skeptical of stationary test results on dyno rollers, and put emissions testing equipment on the back of a moving vehicle. The computer didn’t catch this, and showed that the vehicle operated far differently in the real world.
When it comes to slow progress, European automakers were caught colluding with each other to avoid moving to more advanced technologies so they could make more money with higher emissions vehicles for longer. So, that was another lie.
With these two lies out of the way (“clean diesel” and “we can’t do that yet”), much faster change was not only possible, but demanded by buyers and governments. The companies involved in cheating had to pay heavy prices (some executives even served hard time), and change needed to be rapid to stay afloat now.
Now, European cities are focusing even harder on air quality. The EU and member countries are focusing a lot more on climate change. Even across the pond in laissez-faire America, the excuses are running out. Instead of surviving on borrowed time, companies now have to do the right thing to stay in the game long term.
So, while it’s good to see that Volvo is doing the right thing, it should probably have led the industry toward electric years ago instead of going with the flow on dirty diesel and the scandals that were propping it up. But, this move is one of those “better late than never” things. Hopefully we see more companies follow suit ASAP, but hope is probably not needed because the EU and other global governments aren’t taking any prisoners now.
Featured image provided by Volvo.
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