Volvo's most recent commitment to electrifying its fleet beckons big changes to the future of transportation.
During the summer of 2017, Volvo announced that every vehicle it launches from 2019 onward would have an electric motor, meaning all new Volvos would be plug-in, hybrid, or fully electric. This announcement made it clear that Volvo was centering electrification in its business model.
Since then, Volvo has kept to its promises, and announced in March of 2021 that it plans to stop selling automobiles that run on fossil fuels by 2030. As part if the transition, Volvo aims to make half its sales in 2025 in electric cars and hybrids. With less than a decade, Volvo’s goals are ambitious, especially for a company that has only brought one fully electric vehicle to market so far.
Additionally, its new electric vehicles will be available for purchase online. Volvo plans to reduce the complexity of its product offerings and make pricing more transparent. The only other automaker that follows this model is Tesla, the current leader in the electric car market, which makes all its sales online.
The goals achieved so far by Volvo means it meets the EU-mandated emissions targets for 2020. On its website, Volvo cites climate change as the main reason for its new commitments.
“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” said Henrik Green, Volvo chief technology officer in The Guardian. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only carmaker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change.”
In 2017, we estimated that Volvo’s initial announcement would spark a change in the auto industry—US based car companies would need to integrate more electric engines in their lineup to match the competition. Since then, Ford and General Motors have announced plans to ramp up its electric vehicle production, but all-electric fleets will only be available in Europe, where targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are much more aggressive than those in the states. In fact, the Trump administration rolled back auto emissions standards, putting the US at a disadvantage in the burgeoning electric auto market.
Regardless, some states are helping in this transition; California set a deadline to end sales of gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2035 and allocated nearly $400 million to fill the gaps in its EV charging infrastructure in 2020. This is expected to help grow the already booming market, which sales rose a dramatic 65 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Electric vehicles are more commonplace than ever yet are still rare compared to the ubiquitous gas-powered vehicles that roll down US highways and city streets. However, the electrification of the transportation industry is expected to be one of the major trends of the 21st century.