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Volvo is leaving cars as you know them behind

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ThinkProgress

Swedish auto company Volvo announced Wednesday that all of the new cars it produces will be either all-electric or hybrid by 2019.

electric Volvo

“This is about the customer,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo said in a statement. “People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”

The transition to electric is going even faster than the car maker anticipated just last year, when it announced that all its new cars would be available in a hybrid version.

Its original pledge was to offer its first all-electric car by 2019. Now, the company expects to have five electric vehicles (EVs) on the market by 2021.

“We are convinced that the future of Volvo is electric,” Samuelsson said in a video ad marking the announcement.

The video says the announcement marks “the end of an era for the pure internal combustion engine.”

Volvo’s current slate of hybrid vehicles is selling well. According to the Guardian, Volvo expected 5 to 10 percent of sales for its crossover SUV to be hybrid.

Last year, the hybrid version accounted for a quarter of the model’s sales.

“It’s indicative of the speeding up of the shift over to electrics, particularly in the wake of the VW dieselgate scandal, and it’s a sign that the industry is really starting to move and it will become mainstream,” Professor David Bailey, an automotive expert at Aston University, told the Guardian.

“By the mid-2020s, I expect there to be a tipping point where the electric car starts to out-compete the internal combustion engine.”

Moving from conventionally powered cars to electric cars is critical to achieving carbon emissions reductions.

In the United States, emissions from electricity — historically the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions — have fallen in recent years, as natural gas, solar, and wind have replaced coal as sources of power generation.

Meanwhile, more and more cars are hitting the road. Last year, the transportation sector surpassed electricity as the largest source of emissions stateside.

While EV and hybrid cars often have a higher sticker price, analysis from Navigant Research and BNEF finds that EVs actually have a lower lifetime cost than conventional combustion engines, even when gas prices are low.

The rise of EVs in the United States — think Tesla — was driven by early investments in research by the Department of Energy, which helped develop the technology used for modern batteries, as well as a DOE loan program.

Under former President Barack Obama, the United States committed to an EV charging corridor and other infrastructure improvements to facilitate the transition to clean cars.

That transition — and U.S. leadership in the EV market — is being jeopardized by President Donald Trump, some say.

Trump’s administration has announced it will roll back fuel standards proposed under the previous administration.

Trump’s people argue that the regulations are too costly — but forcing gas to be cleaner is one way to level the playing field for technologies that don’t drive the ever-worsening climate crisis.

China, on the other hand, has embarked on a huge push for electric vehicles.

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told Reuters his company is “convinced China will become the leading market for electromobility.”

Source: ThinkProgress. Reproduced with permission  

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  • Brunel

    Jeopardy = having different EV plugs in Japan and different ones in AUS/NZ.

    Especially given that NZ has long allowed people to import used electric cars from Japan. And AUS will allow people to import new electric cars from Japan from 2018 onward.

    The world needs to agree to a global 300 kW HVDC plug.

    • Miles Harding

      Different plugs in different regions are not a great problem. It’s different plugs in the SAME region we want to avoid. (which is what we have now)

      Somewhere around 100kW solves the problem for passenger vehicles, resulting in charge rates in the order of 300km per hour. Likely this will be limited by the available local power supply and the car’s capacity to absorb charge.

      For the most part, we can expect EVs to charge at much lower rates so they are compatible with domestic power supplies. A 15 amp 240VAC charge results in about 15km/hour of charging, or 100km overnight, and is compatible with solar panel output power (free from the sun).

      SAE J1772 and CHAdeMO are a result of the USA and Japan’s single phase power supples and connector makers, both are from Yazaki.
      We are more closely aligned with Europe which is commonly 3 phase. The IEC 62196 (Mennekes) is a 3-phase super-set* of the J1772 and is readly extended by the CCS Combo for fast DC charging, using the same port on the vehicle.

      The CCS Combo is a single compact connector, which is preferred by car makers to J1772+CHAdeMO, which requires a large hatch or 2 hatches.

      *IEC 61296 to J1772 adaptor cables are available off the shelf in AUS today.

      Most likely, AC charging will ‘be bring your own’ cable and DC will require a captive cable because of the high currents. ‘Bring your own’ means that the cable can’t be vandalised or stolen from a public charger.

      • Brunel

        Local power supply is not an issue thanks to 200 kWh Powerpacks and transformers/inverters.

        Elon has recently tweeted that supercharging stations will be off grid. But Elon lies a fair bit.

        It seems like Tesla have one plug for USA/Japan and Mennekes for the rest of the world.

        I guess what BMW/Merc/VAG can do is build Mennekes plug stations in USA and Japan. But damn Tesla for having a different plug in USA!

  • Robert Comerford

    Dear Volvo, if hasn’t got a plug or runs on renewable fuel it is not green.
    Time to realise that in the 1990’s a Prius might have been considered green but it and similar cars you are proposing are now just another polluting fossil fool car.
    I agree with comments about the plug, It should be universal enabling a 15min charge for vehicles that can take it. The onboard electronics should all talk the same language enabling the charger to set the rate applicable to the vehicle connected.