Waypoint: Volvo cars to be electric or hybrid from 2019

Click to enlargeVolvo electric concepts which may hit the street in 2019

❝ All new cars launched by Volvo from 2019 onwards will be partially or completely battery-powered, in what the company called a “historic end” to building models that only have an internal combustion engine.

Between 2019 and 2021, the firm will introduce five 100% electric models, and ensure the rest of its conventional petrol and diesel range has a hybrid engine of some form. It is the first major manufacturer to make such a bold move.

Håkan Samuelsson, the Volvo chief executive, said: “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car.”

❝ The carmaker, owned by Chinese automotive giant Geely, has yet to build a single fully electric car but already sells five plug-in hybrid models that can run a few dozen miles on battery power before switching to a conventional engine…

❝ Volvo said the first of its electric cars will be built in China, but others would be made in Europe and the US. The company said it had not yet decided on a battery supplier.

Prof David Bailey, an automotive expert at Aston University, said: “It’s indicative of the speeding up of the shift over to electrics, particularly in the wake of the VW dieselgate scandal, and it’s a sign that the industry is really starting to move and it will become mainstream.

“By the mid-2020s I expect there to be a tipping point where the electric car starts to outcompete the internal combustion engine. It’s the way it’s going.”…

And so it goes. Those who whine that the electricity running these beasties isn’t all clean enough – yet – or that the slow pace of the accelerating curve at this end isn’t quick enough understand neither mathematics nor marketing. The biggest chuckle is that the average driver anywhere in the world still hasn’t learned how quick off the line a DC motor can be.

No more Vroom, Vroom… 🙂

Volvo Pure Tension concept unfolds solar charging pavilion from the trunk

Even by the ‘anything-goes’ standards of concept cars, this one is a head-spinner: the “Pure Tension” Volvo V60 Pavilion, commissioned by Volvo Italy and winner of the Pure Volvo Pavilion Design competition. The alien form seen hovering all over the rendered V60 is a pavilion, as in the kind erected for trade shows or outdoor events. Developed by Synthesis Design + Architecture, Buro Happold, and Fabric Images, the pavilion is a flexible mesh structure held in place by carbon fiber rods.

What’s more, the mesh is embedded with photovotaic cells so that the pavilion can absorb energy from the sun or indoor lighting, making it a portable charging station. It can power itself or the crossover, the V60 at the center of it all being a diesel hybrid that plugs straight into the pavilion. When it’s time to go, the entire structure can be folded small enough to fit in the trunk of the car.

We’re told it will be shown in September in Rome. Even if we never see this particular creation on the streets, it’s comfortable proof that our future will eventually be wilder than we can imagine.


Volvo’s hybrid semi sets a land speed record

Volvo is taking its Mean Green hybrid truck on U.S. tour for a few months. One of the stops between Toronto Tuck World and the Volvo Ocean Race in Miami was Wendover, UT, to attempt a couple of record-breaking speed runs.

Mean Green uses a 16-cylinder engine that puts out 1,900-horsepower, tied to an electric motor that adds 200 hp and 885 pound-feet. With that package, the Swedish Viking Speed Records Team and pilot Boije Overbrink were aiming for 165 miles per hour in the flying kilometer. They didn’t quite make that lofty goal, but they did well enough to break not one, but two world records.

Americans predictably haven’t a clue what’s happening within their own borders. There are revolutionary developments – ranging from natural gas powerplants to hybrid technology – stoking semi trailers all along the interstate highways of America. One of the notable early adopters in fact was Wal-Mart.

This post is about Volvo’s effort; but, there are a number of American firms leading the way in energy-saving efforts. You just ain’t gonna see it on network TV snooze shows.

Chinese automaker snaps up Volvo in $1.8 billion deal

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has purchased Volvo cars from U.S. auto giant Ford, the Swedish carmaker announced Sunday.

The $1.8 billion deal represents the biggest ever purchase by a Chinese car manufacturer, but it is considerably less than the $6.4 billion Ford paid for Volvo in 1999.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Ford, enabling us to safeguard and strengthen Volvo’s renowned brand heritage,” said Geely chairman Li Shufu.

“Volvo will be a separate company with its own management team based in Gothenburg, Sweden.”

He added Geely will help Volvo to realize its potential in the Chinese market.

“The agreement provides a solid foundation for Volvo to continue to build its business under Geely’s ownership,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO, in a statement on the company’s Web site. “The sale of Volvo will allow us to further sharpen our focus on building the Ford brand around the world and continue to deliver on our One Ford plan serving our customers with the very best cars and trucks in the world.”

Nice PR lingo which – in fact – I expect to continue along in reality. Geely is in the learning stages of becoming an extra-national brand. Ford is in the learning stages of how to be a global brand in the 21st Century.

Ford agrees to sell Volvo to Geely

My wife would like this V30 to be her next car – with the turbo-diesel

Ford has agreed the terms of the sale of its Swedish business, Volvo Cars, to China’s Geely.

Ford said “some work still remains to be completed” but the deal will be finalised early next year ahead of completion soon after Easter…

Geely was named preferred bidder in November. If completed, it will be the largest purchase by a Chinese car firm.

The question for Volvo is whether its new Chinese owner will do more for the marque than Ford did.

On one level, the decade-long US-Swedish partnership can be seen as a successful. They benefited from each other’s technology and expertise. But although many new models have been introduced in recent years, Volvo sales have not increased much.

That may change under Geely, which will market Volvo in the fast-growing Chinese market.

No details were given of how much the deal is worth, but it is widely rumoured that Geely will pay Ford $2 billion, less than a third of the $6.45 billion Ford paid for Volvo in 1999…

“In theory, the Chinese market could be an opportunity for Volvo,” Nomura’s auto specialist Michael Tyndall said. “It’s a well-known brand, has a good heritage and a range of products that should appeal to the Chinese consumer.”

Equally, the deal should help Geely get into the Western market.

RTFA – especially if you’re not a motorhead. I wouldn’t even say there’s a devil in the details over this deal.

A recession is the best time in the world for someone with bucks to make a deal like this – and the tax break on a loss is advantageous to Ford, as well. They’ve already derived every hidden benefit of platform sharing with Volvo and learned a lot about design in the process.

Disclosure: I own a wee bit of Ford stock. My wife owns an ancient Volvo. 🙂

Greenest car of the year is … another car we can’t get in the U.S.

Volvo S40 diesel DRIVe – 58 US MPG

It may not be a streamlined hybrid, a futuristic electric vehicle or a snazzy biofuel car, but a distinctly boxy diesel Volvo has won What Car? magazine’s award for the year’s greenest car.

A small family car with carbon emissions on a par with Toyota’s Prius, the Volvo S40 DRIVe received the award today from London mayor Boris Johnson. Vauxhall’s Ampera electric car and US electric car-maker Tesla also received awards.

Johnson said: “There are clear incentives for manufacturers to raise the bar higher and higher to design less gas guzzling cars that take hundreds of pounds off consumers’ fuel bills. This is good for the planet, good for the economy and great for the driver.”

What Car? editor Steve Fowler said of the winning Volvo: “It’s not just about a low CO2 figure. The S40 is great to drive, safe, has enough space for the family and, crucially, is cheap to run, too…”

Fowler warned the recession had made cars’ environmental credentials a low priority for consumers. “Green issues are still a hot topic, but it’s fair to say that they are not right at the top of car buyers’ priorities at the moment. It’s just as well then, that green cars will save you plenty of cash at the fuel pumps and will likely be worth more than other cars when you come to sell.”

Once again, we get to look at a laundry list of leading auto designs that most of these manufacturers don’t think of bringing to the United States.

Yes, part of that is the success the Big 3 had for several years cranking out gas-guzzlers. And everyone fears the motoring public in the States has the attention span of a cricket – and will not stick to sensible choices in transportation if the year-round price of gasoline drops to something considered affordable.

Do you think that’s really likely? The “dropping to affordable” part – I mean?

RTFA. Only four of the ten winners are available in the GOUSA.

Volvo DRIVe Diesel gets 53mpg – and I can’t have one

At long last, Volvo buyers can rejoice as the company introduces its high-mpg, low-emissions diesel DRIVe series at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. The DRIVe variants of the C30, S40 and V50 are factory-ecomodded diesels that beat all European emission standards while delivering 53 mpg or better, depending upon the model. The new Volvos promise to be a hot seller for those who would rather do without the excitement of a Mini or reliability of a Toyota.

Provided, of course, they live in Europe

Volvo says the it boosted fuel economy by reducing drag and rolling resistance while improving transmission and engine efficiency. Much of the fuel savings come from attractive drag reduction techniques…Tweaks include dropping the chassis heigh 10mm, covering the radiator grille, adding wind deflectors in front of the wheels. Underbody panels improve airflow under the car. The transmission got revised ratios and lower-friction oil…Taken together, the small adjustments have helped us achieve our aim.” Volvo calls it a “holistic approach to eco-performance.”

Beyond improving fuel economy, the mods cut C02 emissions to no more than 118 grams per kilometer. For comparison, the Prius emits 104. Eco-benefits aside, we must admit the spoilers, lowered ride height and diamond-cut “Libra” rims make for one damn fine lookin’ Swede. Most importantly, the price premium for the DRIVe modification is between 150 and 450 euros ($210-630). For now, that’s a better value than any hybrid, though it doesn’t mean Ford’s dropping its investment in gas-electric drivetrains. Of course, the DRIVe series cars are available only in Europe, although it seems a few smog controls on the 1.6 liter diesel engine they use would make them ready for the United States.

When you RTFA – please note the folks writing the article must have flunked arithmetic in 2nd grade. My conversion of euros is correct – theirs isn’t.

Oh, how I wish, I wish, these critters were available Stateside. My wife’s 240DL is one of those which refuses to keel over; but, I might be able to tempt her with one of these.

And as I always say, I’d love a platform like this converted to a compact pickup.