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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Volvo Will Eventually Ditch Diesel In Favor of EVs


Expect fewer diesel cars on European roadways in the future thanks to Volvo, which pledged to eventually ditch these models in favor of electric vehicles (EVs).

"From today's perspective, we will not develop any more new-generation diesel engines,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

However, Samuelsson told Reuters in an email that diesel will still play a role in the near future. “We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required,” he told Reuters.

He told FAZ that Volvo will continue to work on improving its current range of diesel engine cars, introduced in 2013, to meet emissions standards and production will likely continue until about 2023.

The carmaker will need diesel until 2020 to meet EU carbon emission limits, Samuelsson said. But after that, the cost of making diesel vehicles compliant with regulations would be too high to be worth it.

Volvo announced in 2015 that it would develop a new range of EVs and have its first fully electric car for sale by 2019. Back then, Volvo projected EVs to make up 10 percent of its sales by 2020, Samuelsson said in a statement. “We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream."

It seems Volvo may even want to compete with Tesla. “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design,” Samuelsson told Reuters.

At the SAE 2017 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in San Diego, Volvo announced that its first all-electric car -- to be released in 2019 -- would support battery packs of up to 100 kilowatt-hours, Electrek reported. That could give the car over 300 miles of range, which is something Tesla offers in its Model S and X.

Fewer diesel cars on the road is a good thing

Diesel may be touted as “clean,” but it is not as clean as some may think. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from new diesel passenger cars tested for an analysis in 2014 by the International Council on Clean Transportation were about seven times higher than the limits set by the Euro 6 standard. NOx emissions contribute to the formation of smog and ozone.

Diesel fuel oil made up 21 percent of total petroleum consumption by the American transportation sector. And most diesel fuel is refined from crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Diesel cars account for much more of the car market in Europe than they do in the U.S. Over 50 percent of new registrations in EU member states were for diesel cars in 2013, according to statistics compiled by Eurostat.

Less diesel on the road in Europe sounds like a good thing. Anyone who has ever been behind a bus powered with so-called clean diesel has to question how clean it really is as the smell is quite pungent. And given the seriousness of climate change, diesel cars represent the dirtier past while EVs represent the cleaner future.

Image credit: possan/Flickr

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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