Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson thinks that diesels will be on the way out after 2020, but says that Volvo will fill the gap and introduce an EV by 2019. The diesel announcement comes as a surprise from a diesel-friendly European automaker, but a string of emissions scandals and allegations along with more strict NOx standards and higher costs are taking a toll.
Samuelsson said that diesel still has a crucial role for now, helping automakers comply with an upcoming mandatory 95g/km CO2 emissions standard in Europe. But he told Autocar last week that after 2020 "twin engine (hybrid) and all-electric cars will become more favourable cost-wise." He added that diesels won't be able to take emissions levels lower, saying that "when the requirement comes down below 95g/km, I am quite sure the diesel engine cannot help us."
The issue isn't technology, it's cost that the Volvo CEO thinks will lead to diesel's extinction. Electrification is getting cheaper, but lowering NOx emissions is not. Samuelsson said that making diesel as clean as gas "can be done, it will be more expensive, which is why in the long term it's a negative thing."
Volvo doesn't currently have an electric vehicle, but they expect to soon. Samuelsson confirmed that "we will introduce our first all-electric car in 2019." Volvo Car USA CEO Lex Kerssemakers said at the Geneva Motor Show that the car will need to have a range of at least 400 km, and the US model is expected to start between $35,000 and $40,000.
The company is not planning to build a special platform for EVs, as the two platforms they are using now were designed with electric in mind. That has sped-up development, and Samuelsson says that means that "by 2025 I can see us offering a pure electric model in all of our ranges."
What they were not saying at the show is which model will get electrified first. Given the short timeline and price point goal, we'd expect it to be a vehicle on the brand's new CMA (compact modular architecture). That's the small-car platform that will underpin the S40, V40, and XC40 later this year, and Volvo has already confirmed that the small platform will get some form of electrification. The new EV could share the body of one of those, or could be a unique model.