By 2030, Volvo Cars plan to sell only fully electric cars and aim to be a climate neutral company by 2040. That clear roadmap towards all-out electrification represents one of the most ambitious transformation plans of any legacy car maker.
To underline their commitment to those ambitions, Volvo announces the end of production of all diesel-powered Volvo Car models by early 2024 at Climate Week NYC. In a few months from now, the last diesel-powered Volvo car will have been built, making Volvo Cars one of the first legacy car makers to take this step.
This milestone follows Volvo Cars’ decision to exit the development of new combustion engines. In November 2022, the company sold its stake in Aurobay, the joint venture company that harboured all its remaining combustion engine assets. The company has not since invested any portion of its R&D budget on developing new internal combustion engines.
“Electric powertrains are our future, and superior to combustion engines: they generate less noise, less vibration, less servicing costs for our customers and zero tailpipe emissions,” said Jim Rowan, Chief Executive at Volvo Cars. “We’re fully focused on creating a broad portfolio of premium, fully electric cars that deliver on everything our customers expect from a Volvo – and are a key part of our response to climate change.”
An urgent need for action
Volvo Cars is all in on electrification, a continuous ambition for sustainability since the company first acknowledged at the United Nations’ first Environment Conference in Stockholm in 1972 that its products had a negative environmental impact and that it was determined to act on it. The recent Global Climate Stocktake report issued by the United Nations underlined the urgency of the climate emergency faced by humanity, as well as the need for action.
“What the world needs now, at this critical time for our planet and humanity, is leadership,” said Jim Rowan. “It is high time for industry and political leaders to be strong and decisive and deliver meaningful policies and actions to fight climate change. We’re committed to doing our part and encourage our peers as well as political leaders around the globe to do theirs.”
To further emphasise this point, Chief Sustainability Officer Anders Kärrberg attended an event organised by the Accelerating to Zero (A2Z) Coalition at 2023’s Climate Week NYC. Launched at the COP27 climate summit, the A2Z Coalition provides a multi-stakeholder platform for signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Vehicles, of which we are one.
The A2Z platform allows Volvo Cars to collaborate and coordinate actions with others towards the coalition’s collective target of ‘making 100 per cent of global new car and van sales free of tailpipe emissions by 2040, and no later than 2035 in leading markets’.
While Volvo Cars own electrification target is more ambitious than that, it hopes to inspire other companies to be bolder in taking action against climate change.
A changing outlook
The decision to completely phase out diesels by early 2024 illustrates how rapidly both the car industry and customer demand are changing in the face of the climate crisis.
Only four years ago, the diesel engine was Volvo Cars’ bread and butter in Europe, as was the case for most other car makers. The majority of cars sold on the continent in 2019 were powered by a diesel engine, while electrified models were only just beginning to make their mark.
That trend has largely inverted itself since then, driven by changing market demand, tighter emission regulations as well as our focus on electrification. The majority of Volvo Cars’ sales in Europe now consists of electrified cars, with either a fully electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Less diesel cars on the streets also have a positive effect on urban air quality; while diesels emit less CO2 than petrol engines, they emit more gases such as nitrogen oxide (NOx) that have an adverse effect on air quality especially in built-up areas.