The march toward mainstream electric cars has started to pick up, especially with more affordable all-electric options from Tesla, Chevrolet, and Nissan all on the market. The momentum is only going to pick up from here, with a lot of energy coming from European carmakers. The EU has ambitious climate goals for 2020, and that’s going to prompt many automakers to adjust their strategies accordingly. That starts with Volvo, and an announcement that the company will phase out all-gas vehicles by 2019.
This doesn’t mean that Volvo will abandon gas altogether. In their announcement today, Volvo simply stated that they “will not be developing completely new generations of combustion engines.” The plan is to produce only hybrid and all-electric vehicles by 2019, with the hybrids using Volvo’s existing combustion technology — especially the ones that charge up the electric battery using combustion. However, if Volvo truly intends to stop development on combustion technology, the implication seems to be that the long-term goal is to go all-electric across all lines.
Still, 2019 is an ambitious target date for phasing out all-gas cars. It’s going to require Volvo to create a lot more new hybrid and all-electric models, and that’s at least what they’re planning. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo says they will produce three models of all-electric Volvo vehicles and two all-electric Polestar vehicles — the brand that will eventually represent Volvo’s high-end all-electric efforts. That’s not counting the loads of mild hybrids (the ones that use an electric motor to stay running when idle) and plug-in hybrids (the ones with rechargeable batteries) that Volvo will also put on the market.
Volvo almost certainly won’t be the last European automaker to make this kind of announcement, although they might end up being the most ambitious — signaling the end of gas is a big bet on electric vehicles becoming more reliable and, more importantly, batteries becoming smaller and more efficient.