All Volvos to have Electric Power by 2019

There is a global rush to meet government mandated emissions and fuel efficiency targets that threaten to reshape the way that we power our vehicles, but it will take many years for those changes and improvements to work their way through the system. In the meantime, Volvo of Sweden has announced that from 2019 onwards, all new Volvos launched will be at least in part electric-powered. It is a move that the company describes as “an historic end” to the internal combustion engine; well, at least in Sweden, that is.

According to reports, the odd-ball Swedish car manufacturer, that has been historically known for boring but good offerings, will launch five 100% electric models by the year 2021 and phase in some form of hybridisation across the rest of its range over the same period.

This is the first announcement like this from any of the established auto manufacturers, and whilst you may well argue that Volvo is a bit of a boutique manufacturer, with about 500,000 vehicles sold across its entire range, let us not forget that it is now a part of the Geely empire and has seen solid growth for its XC60 and XC90 models.

According to Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo's CEO, the move is what is being demanded by its customers. Hakan announced “the end of the solely combustion powered car”, a move which will also help Volvo meet legally binding carbon emissions targets for cars sold in the EU that come into effect in 2020.

As of now, Volvo has in fact failed to make a car that will run on battery power for more than a few miles before the dirty old combustion engine kicks in, although there is in fact five plug-in hybrids in its range. This hasn’t stopped them charging a massive premium for the luxury, and the current XC90 retails for some USD17,000 more than its diesel-powered equivalent.

Unsurprisingly, Volvo is not alone in the race for electrification and most manufacturers are racing to introduce some form of hybridisation; in fact, most governments have some form of grant that encourages this.

Most manufacturers are working on what is known as Mild-Hybrids, which are systems that help a car to overcome inertia when it starts moving again at the traffic lights, for instance. The system will give you something like a 15% improvement in efficiency, and focus on the elimination of mechanical belts for things such as the aircon and water pump, which are a drag on efficiency.

Of course one of the key ways to increase efficiency is to reduce friction, and this is why another area for research is in producing more efficient lubricants for the engines. The proven champion in this field is of course X-1R, a product that can improve fuel efficiency - by a reduction in friction - by 7% or much more. So, if you really care about the environment, perhaps it is about time you took another look at X-1R. After all, NASA has said it’s the best for 22 years now.


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