Volvo joins race to be fully electric by 2030

Volvo announced a few years ago all its vehicles would be hybrid in the future – but today it has confirmed its entire line-up will be fully electric by 2030, as it phases out all cars with internal combustion engines, including hybrids.

Chris Hargreaves reports…

The Chinese-owned Swedish company announcement follows Jaguar Land Rover in ditching diesel and petrol engines by the end of this decade. 

Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Indian group Tata Motors announced in February it was to scrap the new Jaguar XJ, just months before its launch. Jaguar will become an all-electric luxury brand by 2025 and will launch electric models of its entire line-up by 2030.

In November last year, luxury carmaker Bentley also announced its models will be all electric by 2030, joining a wide-range of car manufacturers in the switch to electric only vehicles.

Whilst this news may please environmentalists, the new direction of Volvo may worry sales advisers at franchised dealers across the UK, as Volvo intends selling its pure-electric models exclusively online within the next few years.

Volvo said it will invest heavily in online sales channels to ‘radically reduce’ the complexity of its model line-up and provide customers with transparent pricing.

The carmaker’s global network of 2,400 traditional bricks-and-mortar dealers will remain open to service vehicles and to help customers make online orders.

All purchases will be made exclusively via its website so customers will be able to choose from a simplified range of pre-configured electric Volvos for quick delivery – but they will still be able to order custom-made models. 

A care package will also bundle up servicing, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance and home-charging options. 

Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive, said this morning: ‘I am totally convinced there will be no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine. We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.’

The Swedish carmaker, which is owned by Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said 50 per cent of its global sales should be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrid models.

Samuelsson added: “To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So, instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future – electric and online. We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment.”

Volvo Cars launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge, in markets around the globe last year. Today, the company revealed its second fully electric car, a new model in the 40 series meaning an injection of new zero-emission models in the next four years.

Samuelsson said Volvo will be taking a leaf out of Tesla’s successful book by selling battery electric vehicles with software that allows for wireless upgrades and fixes remotely.

Car makers are racing to switch to zero-emission models as they face CO2 emissions targets in Europe and China, plus looming bans in some countries on fossil fuel vehicles.

Electrification is expensive for car makers and as electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, employment in the auto industry is expected to shrink.

Last week, the head of Daimler AG’s truck division said going electric will cost thousands of jobs in the company’s powertrain plants in Germany. 

Speaking to shifting to entirely online car sales, Samuelsson said: ‘It’s getting cars in a very hassle-free way. You order your car online. You press a buy button. There’s a pre-set price. You get better transparency. There’s a less complicated offering. I think the log lists of options went too far.’    

Demand for pure-electric vehicle jumped 186 per cent in 2020, with 108,205 registrations of battery-powered cars during the year. It means that 6.6 per cent of all new models bought in the UK are electric – up from 1.6 per cent in 2019.

In January, 6.9 per cent of all new cars bought were electric, industry figures show. 

Today’s announcement came against a background of industry speculation about Volvo’s Chinese parent company Geely expressing any interest in buying or going into partnership with British rivals Jaguar.

Samuelsson said: ’Jaguar is a very progressive manufacturer when it comes to electrification. It’s I line with Volvo. It encouraged us to be a bit braver.’

Whilst there is clearly a growth in electric vehicle sales, a significant number of owners we have spoken to state they made the switch purely for tax reasons. The grants, rebates and significant lower company car tax available, appears to be a main driver in company owners/executives or those on car schemes switching to electric or hybrid vehicles.

It is clear that as electric vehicles costs decrease, prices may become more affordable. However with significantly lower taxable income for HM Revenue and Customs, and a roll out of public charging points that isn’t keeping up, concerns should be raised on how governments are going to raise income if petrol and diesel duty disappear.

However, Samuelsson predicted a big jump in the installation of charging points but it was vital there were sufficient fast-chargers sited strategically between big cities where motorists could stop-off for a short top-up boost of power.

Charging a car, it should be like charging a telephone, he said. You need fast-charging on the highways. They have to be strategically located between big cities where you take a break.

Currently if you have a Tesla, there are always more charging points than vehicles waiting to use them, however, other brands can be seen queuing for significant lengths of time just to recharge their vehicle with just a couple of charging points.

Whatever the future holds for the electric car, one question which is never raised is what happens to all those vehicles that have high mileage and no warranty? 

Who will want to buy a second-hand electric vehicle that has no warranty or where the cost of replacing the batteries is going to cost more than the purchase price of the vehicle?

If the public, and especially the high mileage chauffeur industry is going to have confidence in going electric, I would suggest these two questions need answering.

What your thoughts? Email

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