Volvo’s future is electrifying

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THE Swedish premium car maker Volvo that has enjoyed a reputation for being one of the world’s most innovative motor manufacturers especially on car safety design has further enhanced this image by announcing details of one of the automotive industry’s most comprehensive electrification strategies writes Bryan Longworth.

Volvo introduced the seatbelt, rear facing child seats, airbag, whiplash protection system, blind spot information system among other innovations and now they are set to introduce plug-in hybrids across their entire range.

Volvo will also develop an entirely new range of electrified smaller cars and build a fully electric car for sale by 2019 which are all part of its new strategy that will see electrified vehicles accounting for up to 10 per cent of total car sales in the medium term.

The first element of the new electrification strategy involves the introduction of plug-in hybrid versions of the 90 series and 60 series larger cars which has started with the launch of the T8 twin engine (petrol and electric) all wheel drive plug-in hybrid versions of the new XC90 SUV and will continue with plug-in versions of the new S90 premium sedan and other forthcoming models.

Volvo will also broaden its range of plug-in hybrid cars with a new front wheel drive twin engine variant plus the launch of a new range of smaller 40 series cars and the development of an all electric car for sale by 2019.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Volvo Cars, Hakan Samuelsson, said: “We believe the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream and we are confident that in two years time 10 per cent of Volvo’s global sales will be electrified cars”.

Dr Peter Mertens of Volvo research and development said their research had shown that people were now driving their twin engine cars in electric mode for 50 per cent of the time meaning that plug-in hybrids now offered a real alternative to conventional powertrain systems.

In addition battery technology had improved so much that costs were going down and public acceptance of electrification was no longer a question which was further evidence for the company going ahead with their plug-in project.

This decision by Volvo indicates they now feel that the future for electrification is so convincing after some uncertainty that they have now decided to go for it as an alternative to diesel power.

The future for diesel power is also uncertain for various reasons including the controversy over emissions and the diesel engine scandal involving Volkswagen which has harmed the future of oil burning engines.

Other manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan in particular have been successfully persisting with cars powered by electricity in various ways for some time be it hybrid plug-in or with a subsidiary petrol or diesel engine topping up the electrical system.

It is now highly likely that other manufacturers will be following the decision by Volvo to offer plug-in power for all their cars or some other form of electric power.

Verdict: Volvo’s future is electrifying.

Fact File

Models: Volvo car range.

Power: Electric plug-in hybrids.

Prices: To be announced.

On sale date: Over next few years.