Volvo on Wednesday called time on the internal combustion engine in a bid to get ahead in the race to sell electric cars to the mass market.
The Chinese-Swedish carmaker has said that, from 2019, all of its models will be powered by electric engines. The Gothenburg-based company will continue to produce pure combustion-engine Volvos from models launched before that date, but said it would introduce cars across its model line-up that ranged from fully electric cars to plug-in hybrids.
More than a quarter of sales of one of those existing models, the crossover SUV XC90, were plug-in hybrid versions last year, much higher than the 5% to 10% the company had anticipated.
"This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," Volvo Cars Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement.
“People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs,” added Samuelsson.
The company, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said it would produce one million battery cars by 2025 and ending production of cars with conventional engines shows its dedication to the target. It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021.
Volvo has invested heavily in new models and plants since being bought by Geely from Ford in 2010, establishing a niche in a premium auto market dominated by larger rivals such as Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Part of its strategy has also been to embrace emerging technologies that allow higher performance electric vehicles as well as, eventually, self-driving cars.
Volvo has also taken steps towards an eventual listing, raising 5 billion crowns from Swedish institutional investors through the sale of newly issued preference shares last year, though the company has said no decision on an IPO has been made.
Several of the major carmakers, including Renault-Nissan, BMW and VW, have declared ambitious plans for electric cars, supported with grants by governments, which see them as a key way of tackling air pollution and climate change.
The VW emissions scandal, which came to light in 2015, gave added impetus for companies to focus on the vehicles.
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