Hybrids will dominate in drive to electrify vehicle fleets

By Peter Stewart 19 July 2017
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Volvo plans to increase its focus on electric and hybrid vehicles. (Volvo) Volvo plans to increase its focus on electric and hybrid vehicles. (Volvo)

Over the next year, a gaggle of vehicle manufacturers will join Volvo in talking up the pace of the electrification of Europe’s car fleet. They need to do this to meet stringent emissions standards being brought in by the EU by 2021. But the switch from petrol and diesel looks likely to be slower than the headlines imply because the new vehicles set to be introduced will primarily be hybrids rather than fully electric. According to EU figures, cars are responsible for around 12% of Europe’s emissions of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas.

"The future of Volvo is electric," said Volvo’s Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson in early July, announcing in a promotional video that his company would shift up a gear in its drive to develop electric vehicles. But although the company will introduce five fully electric car models between 2019 and 2021, hybrids are the centrepiece of its plans. The company has committed to equip all its vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) with supplemental electrical propulsion systems by 2019. These will be either ‘mild’ types, which have a more powerful battery system than normal ICE vehicles, or ‘plug-in’ hybrids.

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