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Volvo Says It Will Only Make Electric and Hybrid Cars Starting in 2019 (npr.org) 240

Volvo has announced that starting in 2019, all of the new models it produces will be electric or hybrid. From a report: "This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo president and chief executive, in a statement. "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 move makes Volvo the first traditional automaker to set a date to phase out cars powered only by internal combustion engines, Reuters reports. The company said it will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of these will be Volvos, and two will be sold under the company's Polestar "electrified performance brand."
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Volvo Says It Will Only Make Electric and Hybrid Cars Starting in 2019

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  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @12:46PM (#54748051) Homepage

    Somewhere in the world right now, Jeremy Clarkson is banging his head against a dashboard.

    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @12:53PM (#54748111)

      Jeremy Clarkson liked the BMW i8 hybrid. I don't think he has a problem with hybrids so long as they are good hybrids;

      "What we have here, then, is a car that runs silently on electric power when you just have to go to work. But that becomes a Porsche 911 when you are in the mood. This is a sport hybrid, but unlike other sport hybrids — the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spyder, for example — it does not cost eleven hundred and seventy thirteen million pounds."
      [...]
      Toyota had just about convinced the world that if you wanted a hybrid you could pretty much kiss goodbye to the concept of fun. But with the i8 BMW has shown this ain’t necessarily so.

      I still believe that with hybrids we are going down the wrong road. But with an i8, going in completely the wrong direction is at least wonderfully enjoyable.

      • That's a "good" hybrid, just like the Mitsubishis and Volvos being sold over here. Good in the sense that they got a decent petrol engine and have a lot of of extra torque thanks to the additional electric motors, so you get very spiffy acceleration and no range issues, while still qualifying for the significant tax break. Environment? The hybrid part is just a power boost.

        I do agree that hybrids are a temporary solution at best. It's a lot of extra complexity and weight for a slight environmental be
      • Let us also not forget the holy trinity... Porsche 918, McLaren P1, and the Ferrari TheFerrari.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @12:57PM (#54748145)
    sorry
  • > Polestar "electrified performance brand."

    Uhhh, should we tell them that's not a great brand name in north america?

    • Their name is already Volvo.

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @01:01PM (#54748189) Homepage

    Volvo now has every incentive to make quicker progress on hybrid engines and electric motors than their otherwise ICE-involved competitors might. Of course, it may just be their board's latest brain fart as interpreted by their CEO, too. Time will tell. All I know is that it's a gutsy move.

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @01:15PM (#54748291) Homepage

      It's also a gutsy move not to. Emissions and mileage regulations are tightening. There's a crackdown against emissions cheaters. Consumers meanwhile expect better and better performance. Electric motors are really the only practical way to deliver high performance in the current regulatory regime - whether you're talking pure electric or hybrid. Electric motors actually become more efficient as they become more powerful, not less (upping the peak power requires lower resistance wiring, which wastes less energy when the vehicle is cruising)

      There's also a serious danger for any automaker being behind the curve on electrification. Tesla's Model 3 production lines are finally going online for what will initially be several hundred thousand vehicles per year, with long-term plans aimed many times larger. Tesla could of course be completely wrong and the market could disappoint in the long-run. But for other manufacturers, the cost of letting your ability to mass-produce reliable electric vehicles stagnate would be a death knell if Tesla is right. Volvo can always go back to making pure gasoline cars if they're wrong, but they can't just suddenly jump to making hundreds of thousands or millions of EVs per year if they haven't built up to that point.

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        Electric motors actually become more efficient as they become more powerful, not less (upping the peak power requires lower resistance wiring, which wastes less energy when the vehicle is cruising).

        Ah, yes, the modern "overdrive" is a handy-dandy burly conduit demassifier.

        Only I'm not sure whether this cancels out drag effects once your heavy windings become so large as to erupt, steampunk style, from the hood, like giant copperhead engine minions. Can't have everything, I guess. Still, the efficiency with

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      The announcement is meaningless as far as all battery cars are concerned. Before making announcements on building a significant number of all electric cars, Volvo needs to figure out where they will be buying these batteries as supply is just too short to just wave their hands and hope to buy them on a barely existent open market.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Right, because I'm totally sure that thought never occurred to them. Because they've totally stayed in business all this time by simply guessing that supply chains for all of their parts will be present.

        • "by simply guessing that supply chains for all of their parts will be present."

          I'm sure it has occurred to them, but that doesn't mean there is no risk. In most cases, a given part for traditional ICE vehicles could be made by many different suppliers. Lose a supplier, for whatever reason, and you can pretty much guarantee that another will be able to fill the void. There are considerably fewer players in the market for the kind of batteries these cars require, and a disruption could leave them with inc
        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          The battery shortage is a well known choke point in the large scale production of electric vehicles that you cannot remove by waving your hands and saying "they're serious people, these guys from Volvo, I'm sure they've thought about the problem".

          Both Tesla & Daimler have addressed the problem by revealing their plans for procuring the necessary batteries. Why not Volvo?

          Volvo could make an announcement claiming that they would be powering their future vehicles with antimatter and I would be just as skep

  • Mild Hybrids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @01:06PM (#54748225) Homepage Journal

    All automakers are going to more or less follow suit soon enough. The benefits of a mild hybrid system far outweigh the essentially nonexistent drawbacks, and if you actually convert the whole car to 48V, then there really are no drawbacks.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I hope they just do range extenders, basically generators to top up the battery. Hybrids are a waste of time, so many drawbacks compared to EVs.

      • Hybrids are a waste of time, so many drawbacks compared to EVs.

        The basic fundamental problem with EVs is just how many people cannot reasonably charge them at home at this time. Eventually, this will change, and they will become suitable for a larger percentage of the market. As it is, they suit the needs of many people, and by all means, I believe those people should purchase EVs ASAP. But they certainly do not suit the needs of enough people to justify the ICE going away, or even the EV taking the majority of the market share today.

        • The only reason people demand that they be able to charge an EV at home is because it takes so long. It's terribly inconvenient to wait an hour to charge up a car at a public charging station. It's generally inconsequential to have it charge up while at home, where you can take off your shoes and have a beer while supper is in the oven.

          If an EV could be charged to 100% in 5, or even 15, minutes regularly and not be concerned about battery damage then we would not even bother with home charging systems. A

    • My fear is that the move towards mild hybrids will de-emphasize the importance of good traffic management in cities (e.g. synchronized lights to reduce the number of red lights you'll hit). Most of the fuel savings for hybrids comes in city driving, where they can recoup about 1/3 of the kinetic energy whenever the car brakes. So they decrease the fuel wasted from poor traffic management.

      The problem with focusing solely on improving MPG is that it ignores other external losses. Adopting hybrids but ig
      • I don't think anyone is going to say "well, hybrids mean we're still saving energy even if the lights are mistimed, so we will just ignore all the accidents and lost sales due to inefficiency which lead to lost tax revenues. But making all the vehicles hybrids will still save energy lost in towns where they deliberately make the light patterns suck in order to keep you downtown longer to increase the chance that you'll stop and buy something just to get out of the damned car, or more to the point, in the fa

      • My fear is that the move towards mild hybrids will de-emphasize the importance of good traffic management in cities (e.g. synchronized lights to reduce the number of red lights you'll hit). Most of the fuel savings for hybrids comes in city driving, where they can recoup about 1/3 of the kinetic energy whenever the car brakes. So they decrease the fuel wasted from poor traffic management.

        Not a problem in Europe where Volvo mostly sells their cars - Europe doesn't use giant light controlled junctions in 99% of cases.

      • Its green light badly needs to be regulated by a vehicle sensor.

        No, they don't need a sensor.

        In college I remember a stretch of road like you describe where if you hit one light you hit them all. Then I ran an experiment, I drove faster and faster until I didn't hit a red light any more. The posted limit was 35 mph but if I drove at 40 mph I would hit only one light. That's just fucked up, the city timed the lights to ENCOURAGE speeding.

        Where I live now many lights are run by sensors when in the past they were timed. Being that the roads are pretty flat and straight

    • by jensend ( 71114 )

      It often seems that denigrating mild hybrids is one of the few things fans of EVs and PHEVs and their detractors agree on. All the drawbacks and none of the benefits, fanboys on both sides often claim. But the facts simply don't back them up.

      If we can actually modernize vehicle electrical systems and move beyond legacy cruft, an automaker would be nuts not to use mild hybrid tech throughout its fleet. It really is a lot simpler than a full parallel hybrid, and a lot less of a total overhaul of the automotiv

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @01:34PM (#54748489) Homepage Journal

    All automobile manufacturers project the cost to buy a fossil fuel vehicle will be more than for an all electric vehicle starting next model year.

    (yes, I invest in automobile firms, sorry if you never read the internal news)

    Adapt. Nobody cares for your failed fossil fuel religion.

    • All automobile manufacturers project the cost to buy a fossil fuel vehicle will be more than for an all electric vehicle starting next model year.

      Could you clarify what you mean by that?

  • That and subsidized home high voltage charger installation. You want this technology adopted quicker? Give people an incentive rather than putting roadblocks in their way.
    • by enjar ( 249223 )
      My power company is giving away Level 2 chargers. The trick is that they are wifi controlled so they can drop them to Level 1 chargers during certain hours. Given that Volt can charge completely on Level 1 overnight, this is a no-brainer for me. I agree on the pickup, too. They are by far the vehicle the American public votes for most as their favorite, and an electric motor with full torque available at 0 RPM could be very useful for towing things, among many other positives.
      • Electric motors are very good at having low-end torque, which is why locomotives are diesel-electric instead of the diesel engine directly connecting to the drive wheels (not a train fan, so I'm guessing that's the reason why). Electric motors can be designed specifically with that in mind.

        Would a WiFi jammer keep it at Level 2 charging for you? ;-)
        • by enjar ( 249223 )
          As it works out, only two of the hours would have any impact on my life so it's probably not worth the time/hassle. If I wanted full control I could always just pony up the bucks for my own EVSE. The one they are offering for free is not my first choice, but there's approximately 500 reasons why it's a better choice.
  • Is this an announcement that Volvo is getting out of the heavy truck market? They make some of the best equipment in that market.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Volvo CE and Volvo Cars are two different companies. Volvo Cars is a Chinese subsidiary and Volvo CE is a Swedish company traded on a public stock market.

  • Volvo is a high-end, low-volume manufacturer. Worldwide sales are about half a million [volvocars.com] out of total worldwide sales of nearly 90 million [businessinsider.com].

    Whether this is a smart move in their chosen market segment remains to be seen. But it's not going to noticeably move the needle in the overall market.

  • by spoot ( 104183 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @02:36PM (#54749073) Homepage

    I remember when I was a kid, growing up in Miami. We would go to the unlimited hydroplane races at Marine Stadium on Key Biscayne. Back then, all the Unlimited Hydro's were powered by Rolls Royce Merlin engines. Yea, surplus engines from P-51's and Spitfires. There was/is nothing like the sound of that Merlin engine screaming by. If you've never heard it, I can't explain it. Fast forward a few years into the future, and I attend the Hydro races in Detroit, and all the unlimited Hydro's are using jet engines. The go by and it's just a "whoosh" sound. All the fun and excitement were gone. Last Hydro race I ever went to. Or take a dragster or funny car burning Nitro, that sound, that smell. Yea, the electrics and jet powered race vehicles may be faster, but they're just boring. This may sound silly, but soon there will be a generation that never knows the sound of a tightly tuned internal combustion engine on a Formula 1 or even a Ducati. We won't even get behind the wheel, we will just whoosh along in boring electric vehicles. I think Jeff Beck said about self driving cars, who the hell would want that. What's the fun in that. Hell, I even miss the sound of a raspy old Bultaco, Husky or CZ 2-Stroke. I'll go back to yelling at the clouds now.

    • I even miss the sound of a raspy old Bultaco, Husky or CZ 2-Stroke. I'll go back to yelling at the clouds now.

      Those old onion-in-the-belt engines were awesome to behold, but they also spewed unburned fuel out of their arseholes like an angry fat man who hit every buffet in Vegas in one day. Now we can make electric dirt bikes that have fantastic performance, don't shake your hindquarters into puzzle pieces, and which will still have juice left when you're all tired out. They might be less interesting to watch, but manufacturers don't make the big bucks selling bikes to racers. They make 'em selling them to customer

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @03:44PM (#54749683) Homepage

      Boring electric vehicles that have almost no "top speed" and can accelerate faster than just about anything on the planet.

      I have always suspected, and it's now being borne out, that being "into" fast cars was nothing to do with performance, or handling, or engineering. It was about making loud noises and getting dirty and feeling manly.

      Now that every car on the road can do 130mph, nobody cares. Now that electric cars/bikes out-accelerate everything else, nobody cares. Now that even Harley Davidson have electric models, nobody cares.

      It was never about the engineering. It was about making noise, and being seen to make noise.

      Formula One is as boring as fuck, since they keep making silly rules to dial everything back to "safety". Noisy cars are boring as fuck, since every decent car is whisper silent and can out-perform all the others. Even convertibles - why on EARTH is it at all fashionable to show the world that you can't afford air-con and would rather have every bug smacking you in the face?

      Fact is, the ICE's days are numbered. Environmental factors, cost, wear on parts, etc. Almost every car on the road is technically better than a Formula One car from my parent's generation. You can't really speed anyway because of the cameras, and even when you do, they are designed so that it doesn't actually feel fast at all (a dangerous combination).

      How about we get over "WOAH! CARS ARE BIG AND LOUD AND NOISY AND LOOK AT ME COMING!", finally? Most kids these days have zero interest in cars, for the same reason they have zero interest in computers - the point are which they were "amazing" was in the previous generation. Now everything's a Formula 1, and you can't do anything with it.

      My technician bought himself a brand new car last year. Was telling me all about specs, sporty wheels, such-and-such-a-limited-edition, etc. Spent a fortune. Turned out that, when we checked the specs, the car I had bought a few years before outperformed every spec he gave but didn't look like a terrible boy-racer tricked-out car from the 80's, could carry 5 and a ton of luggage, and was whisper-quiet internally.

      Cars are no longer the must-have teenager item. They have Uber if they want to go somewhere. As such, those still clinging to that idea are clinging to a childhood, not to a fascination with engineering. We've been using sub-standard engines for decades because nobody "wanted" an electric car. Now that they do, they win on almost every metric.

      P.S. I don't like electric cars, but because of practicality - purchase cost, replacement cost, range. My father was also a motor engineer for decades, built all his own tricked-out cars, did all kinds of stuff in his youth, massive garage dedicated to the hobby, etc. He bought a second-hand Volvo last year.

      Cars are just utility vehicles now. And so the sporty ones make no sense. And a battery-powered Harley will beat just about anything away at the lights. Fact is, nobody really cares any more except the guy who bought the Harley because of the Harley name.

      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

        It was never about the engineering. It was about making noise, and being seen to make noise.

        You hit around it, but you really missed the point. It was about more than the noise. It was about engineering. But mostly, it was about challenging your mates and building a better "it" than they build. It was about making you car do more than what the other guys could get their cars to do. It was about building a computer that would play the latest games smoother than the other guys in your group. The noise was just a side-effect that showcased your accomplishment. The liquid cooling setup and LEDs

        • If it was about engineering then that Miami guy wouldn't complain about jet engines. They are marvels of engineering compared to piston engines.

      • by Trogre ( 513942 )

        This. 327 times this.

      • How about we get over "WOAH! CARS ARE BIG AND LOUD AND NOISY AND LOOK AT ME COMING!", finally?

        I give a shit what my car sounds or looks like to anyone else. What I care about is what it sounds like to me, and what it looks like to me. Someone once said that if you don't turn around to look at your car at least once as you walk away, you've got the wrong car. I want my car's styling to say something positive to me. Oddly, the styling of my 1998 A8 is for me (all the style is on the inside, what there is of it) but the exhaust note is for everyone else, you can only hear it inside the car when you tot

    • by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @04:33PM (#54750055)

      self driving cars, who the hell would want that

      A commuter driving the same route to work every day. Or a parent dropping off the kids and doing shopping.

      In other words, the vast majority of drivers.

    • I remember when I was a kid, growing up in Miami. We would go to the unlimited hydroplane races at Marine Stadium on Key Biscayne. Back then, all the Unlimited Hydro's were powered by Rolls Royce Merlin engines. Yea, surplus engines from P-51's and Spitfires. There was/is nothing like the sound of that Merlin engine screaming by. If you've never heard it, I can't explain it. Fast forward a few years into the future, and I attend the Hydro races in Detroit, and all the unlimited Hydro's are using jet engines. The go by and it's just a "whoosh" sound. All the fun and excitement were gone. Last Hydro race I ever went to. Or take a dragster or funny car burning Nitro, that sound, that smell. Yea, the electrics and jet powered race vehicles may be faster, but they're just boring. This may sound silly, but soon there will be a generation that never knows the sound of a tightly tuned internal combustion engine on a Formula 1 or even a Ducati. We won't even get behind the wheel, we will just whoosh along in boring electric vehicles. I think Jeff Beck said about self driving cars, who the hell would want that. What's the fun in that. Hell, I even miss the sound of a raspy old Bultaco, Husky or CZ 2-Stroke. I'll go back to yelling at the clouds now.

      I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Despite all the religion-fuelled comments here, the infernal combustion engine isn't going anywhere soon. It's way too cheap and plentiful.

  • The summary as it stands does not say what it means to say. Why is it so hard to position the word "only" in the right place in a sentence?

  • by thenitz ( 4779053 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2017 @03:39PM (#54749623)

    The first time you read the title, it seems like Volvo will only sell electric cars in 2 years time and they will become another Tesla.

    Then, if you pay attention, it says that starting 2019, all new models will have an electric engine in them. Yes, this includes mild hybrids, basically energy recovery systems where the electric engine only gives a boost, but it's too small to drive on electric power alone. And yes, they will keep producing the old models for a while.

    This is good news, but by no means earth-shattering. I understand most of the European manufacturers will introduce mild hybrids across their range, due to very strict emission standards coming 2020. A PR coup for Volvo, for making public a decision that everyone in the industry will eventually take, and soon.

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