Volvo is taking advantage of the undeveloped market for electric cars, which promises to grow significantly in coming years
Volvo is taking advantage of the undeveloped market for electric cars, which promises to grow significantly in coming years

FRANKFURT, GERMANY- On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that it will be phasing out conventional engines by 2019. All cars released from 2019 will be fully battery-powered, or will be hybrids. Though Volvo represents a relatively small portion of the auto market, this is a significant step that may signal to other companies that the time for sustainable development is now. As renewable energy expands worldwide, the market for electric cars will continue to grow. Volvo will likely be the first of many vehicle companies to move towards electric cars.

Jack Ewing at The New York Times reports:

Volvo Cars said on Wednesday that all the vehicle models it introduces from 2019 will be either hybrids or powered solely by batteries, betting that the era of the internal combustion engine is coming to a close.

The decision is the boldest commitment by any mainstream automaker to technologies that represent a small share of the total vehicle market. While major automakers offer hybrids and battery powered vehicles, none has yet been willing to forsake cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel fuel.

Hybrids, which run on battery power supplemented by gasoline or diesel engines, accounted for about 2 percent of passenger car sales in the United States last year, and the number has been declining because gasoline prices have fallen.

And cars that run solely on battery power are still rare in most countries because of high purchase prices, lengthy charging times and limited ranges.

Still, most carmakers expect the share of electric cars to grow quickly as the technology improves, prices fall and public charging stations become more commonplace. Rapid advances in self-driving cars will also encourage a shift to battery power: It is simpler to link self-driving software to an electric motor than to a conventional internal combustion engine.

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” Hakan Samuelsson, the chief executive of Volvo, said in a statement. The company would still produce older models with conventional engines after 2019.

But by focusing on electrification, Volvo can concentrate its limited research and development resources on new technologies rather than continuing to invest in fuel-powered motors that may become obsolete. With sales of 534,000 cars last year, Volvo is dwarfed by companies like Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors, each of which sold about 10 million vehicles in 2016.

Read more at The New York Times.