Volvo became the latest automaker to announce a phaseout of fossil-fuel vehicles, and it did so with a stronger statement than GM, Ford and Jaguar have done. No “aspirations,” no plug-in hybrids, no exceptions for profitable models, and no geographic carve-outs: “Volvo Cars is committed to becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric car market and plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030.”
Also unlike more cautious automakers, Volvo is setting some interim goals that will require action in the here and now—by 2025, half of its global sales are to be pure EVs, and the other half hybrid models.
Other brands seem to foresee a long, gradual transition to EVs, but Volvo’s leaders made it clear that they believe ICE vehicles are through. “I am totally convinced there will be no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson told reporters. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers. Instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future—electric and online.”
“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” agreed CTO Henrik Green. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030.”
Samuelsson rejected industry fears that electrification will lead to massive job losses, saying that the transition would mostly affect engine plants and auto suppliers that provide ICE-specific parts such as oil filters and fuel injectors. “Those are a lot of jobs of course,” he said. “But overall, I don’t think there will be a big difference.”
Volvo will also take a couple of other steps into the future. Samuelsson says the company’s new EVs will have over-the-air update capability, and will be sold only online.
This doesn’t mean Volvo will abandon its 2,400 dealerships (it can’t legally do so, at least in the US). “While Volvo Cars is investing heavily in online sales platforms, it will build stronger customer relationships together with its retail partners,” the company announced. “They remain a crucial part of the customer experience and will continue to be responsible for a variety of important services such as selling, preparing, delivering and servicing cars.”
“Online and off-line need to be fully and seamlessly integrated,” added Lex Kerssemakers, Head of Global Commercial Operations. “Wherever the customer is in their journey—online, in a showroom, in a Volvo Studio, or driving the car—the customer experience needs to be top-notch.”
Volvo has also announced a new EV. The C40 Recharge, which “has all the benefits of an SUV but with a lower and sleeker design,” is the company’s second pure EV, following the XC40 Recharge, and the first to be designed as a native EV.
The C40 Recharge is based on the CMA vehicle platform. It has twin electric motors, one on the front and one on the rear axle, a 78 kWh battery pack, and an anticipated range of around 420 km, which is “expected to improve over time via over-the-air software updates.”
The C40 Recharge is expected to go into production this fall, and will be built alongside the XC40 Recharge at Volvo’s plant in Ghent, Belgium.