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Volvo to stick with non-hybrids ‘for as long as customers buy them’

By Barry Park, 19 Jan 2018 Car News

Volvo to stick with non-hybrids ‘for as long as customers buy them’

The Swedish car maker is talking up its plans to electrify its showroom. But if you don’t trust the new tech, you’ll still have options

Volvo says it will continue to offer conventional engines in its cars for “as long as customers want them” as it rolls out plans to hybridise its growing showroom.

Speaking with WhichCar recently, Bjorn Annwall, Volvo’s global head of marketing, retail and strategy, said the Chinese-owned Swedish brand’s rush to electrify its line-up wouldn’t leave customers without a fossil-fuelled option.

“If you talk about the next few years, we are seeing a future where the line-up will be full of battery-electric vehicles, 48-volt cars hybridised, and plug-ins, and those will be the only powertrains we will have on cars we introduce from 2019 and onwards,” Annwall said.

2018 Volvo XC40“Then of course the cars already launched, the regular powertrains, will continue to live on for as long as consumers still demand them. But from that point on, we’re only going to launch cars with electrified drivetrains.”

Volvo still offers conventional engines in a showroom that is now predominantly made up of hybrid, and in some instances, plug-in hybrid models. As it stands today, Volvo’s Australian line-up includes turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that have not yet added hybrid assistance.

2018 Volvo XC40However, the focus on electrification is front of mind for the car maker, with more strict emissions standards being introduced overseas from 2021 likely to influence Volvo’s product mix here.

Annwall said a switch to battery-fuelled cars was inevitable as car makers struggled to work out a cost-effective way of meeting emissions targets for internal combustion engines that varied between China, the US and Europe.

“I haven’t heard of different emissions standard regulations for electric cars,” he said. “So I think they will have the same emissions standard, as of now, so that’s one way of solving that, to go fully into battery electric vehicles.

“Also, working with downsizing the normal combustion engine and adding hybridisation to it is a way to reach much better engines, and much better engines typically meet most emissions regulations.

2018 Volvo XC40“And that is our main focus area now, to electrify the whole fleet of cars, and through that we will meet what we think is right, we will meet what consumers want, and then we hope to meet what regulators want from us.”

Volvo is soon to launch the XC40 small SUV (pictured) in Australia, the first time the Swedish brand has made a pitch for sales in the segment. More design-driven than the Volvos that have come before it, the new entry to the premium segment is the first vehicle built off the brand’s new Compact Modular Architecture that is optimised for electrification.

Due in Australia around April, the XC40 will include diesel and petrol engine options, and compete against rivals including the Audi Q2 and slightly larger but better value Q3, the BMW X1, the Lexus NX and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.