No Slowdown For Volvo On Electrification

Here’s something I think about a lot: the future of the auto industry is very clearly an electrified one, primarily made of hybrid and fully electric vehicles. Transitioning toward that will be deeply expensive for every automaker. So how do car companies finance that shift now that the global economy is, to use technical terms, completely in the toilet? Do they let up, push the changes off and double-down on what little trucks and SUVs people are buying in the meantime?

If you’re Volvo, at least, that won’t be the case. Despite profits getting hammered across the board, R&D budgets getting slashed everywhere and a very unclear path to recovery, the Swedish automaker isn’t letting up. It wants to put one million electrified cars on the road by 2025. Here’s a good read from Wired:

Even as other carmakers grapple with the outlook for their electrification plans, Volvo is keeping the pedal to the metal. The Swedish maker is arguably the legacy brand most committed to an electric future and continues to declare that its entire lineup will be either electric or hybridized by 2025. Given Volvo’s relatively small size–and lacking the established momentum of the all-electric Tesla–that’s a precarious commitment.

But not from Volvo’s perspective. “No, we will not compromise on our electrification strategy,” Mårten Levenstam, the company’s head of strategy, told me earlier this month. “Electrification is Volvo’s path forward, and we will continue our plans to electrify our product range.”

The company last year unveiled its first dedicated EV, the forthcoming XC40 Recharge, and hybrid and plug-in options are available for most models in its lineup. Polestar, Volvo’s upscale spinoff brand, is on the verge of releasing its sporty all-electric sedan.

Levenstam foresees no changes in Volvo’s overall EV strategy or its timeline, including plans for additional electrified options. “Due to the spread of coronavirus, we see that a weakening market and production disruptions will impact our first-half results negatively,” he says. “However, we continue to invest in new technologies and products to safeguard our long-term future.”

I’d actually argue Volkswagen is “the legacy brand most committed to an electric future” given the cost and scale of its transition. But as far as smaller brands go, yes, Volvo is one of the more aggressive automakers pivoting to EVs.

For one thing, Volvo can’t afford to let up, as that story notes–not just because of emissions standards, but also because battery technology is evolving at a very fast rate. This requires years of testing and evaluation, so it has to integrate that tech into its fleet now to grow with it. Worth a read in full.

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