Earlier this summer Volvo announced that every car it launches from 2019 will either be a hybrid or a full EV. From then on, no newly-released Volvo or Polestar (which is now a separate company with its own CEO, don’t forget) will be powered solely by internal combustion. Big news, and widely misinterpreted. So at last week’s launch of the Volvo XC40 we caught up with CEO Håkan Samuelsson – mostly to talk XC40 and the new ‘Care by Volvo’ subscription service. Both very interesting in their own right, but conversation naturally veered towards the plans that have put Volvo at the forefront of the sprint toward EVs. Here’s what we learnt…
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Four things we learnt talking to Volvo’s CEO
Håkan Samuelsson talks XC40, car subscriptions and EVs
Diesel is still a thing. For now
Once the whole hybrid/EV thing starts in 2019, Volvo will not launch any new solely internal-combustion engined cars. It will continue to sell them, though, providing said cars were launched before 2019. The transition will be a gradual one – Volvo will not kill all its ICE cars at once, but as they’re replaced and facelifted, which makes perfect sense.
Some have reported that ’19 marks the death of diesel Volvos. Not immediately – Volvo will launch diesel-engined cars beyond 2019, but they’ll be diesel-hybrids. Won’t last long though, because Håkan tells us it will not develop a new “generation” of diesels, meaning the four-cylinders in its current crop of cars will be its last. “What we are rolling out now is a good diesel, but after that we will go for hybrids with petrol,” he says.
Volvo’s doing five full EVs before 2021…
…And one of them will be an XC40. Håkan tells us Volvo “started with the top variants – the T5 and D4 – then we will develop it downwards, so there will be a three cylinder petrol and also later on hybrids and an all-electric version.”
The first Volvo EV won’t be an XC40
The first Volvo EV is scheduled to arrive in 2019 – Håkan says it will not be an XC40, but that the two will use the same powertrain because they’re both based on the CMA platform, which was designed to accept EV powertrains as well as hybrid and conventional ICEs. Two of the EVs will be Polestars, and the other three Volvos.
‘Care by Volvo’ might do quite well
Håkan told assembled journalists at last week’s XC40 launch that within five years, the carmakers expects ‘Care by Volvo’ to account for a fifth of its sales volume.
Volvo’s new car subscription service – don’t call it a lease, they hate that – gives a car, plus insurance, maintenance and a load of ‘concierge services’ (like the use of another Volvo for 14 days a year) for a flat monthly fee that’s the same however old you are and wherever you live. In Britain it’s £629 – there’s no deposit to pay and you get a new car after two years. But it’s only available within the M25 for now, and we miss out on a few of the headline services. We’re promised these will be added in due course.