Volvo to phase out petrol-only engines starting 2019

File: Last year, Volvo Cars  set an annual sales record of more than 600,000 vehicles.

File: Last year, Volvo Cars  set an annual sales record of more than 600,000 vehicles.

AFP

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Swedish carmaker Volvo Cars said on Wednesday it planned to phase out production of conventional petrol-only cars starting from 2019, with all new models to be either electric or hybrid.

The Gothenburg-based group was the first major manufacturer to electrify all of its models and to set out a roadmap for the gradual end to the internal combustion engine, a century and a half after it was invented.

Volvo, owned by China's Geely, said it planned to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021, three under its own brand and two under the Polestar brand, as well as a range of hybrid models.

Polestar was a subsidiary specialising in high-performance electric vehicles and a rival to California-based Tesla, which was to launch the production of its first lower-priced "Model 3".

"This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," Volvo Cars president and chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement.

A Volvo Cars spokesman said the first fully electric car would be manufactured in China, and that the production location of the other four was yet to be determined.

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The car maker, which posted record sales in 2016, noted that "consumers are increasingly pleased with electrified cars" and that it intended to respond to the growing demand for cleaner and less polluting vehicles.

A Volvo Cars spokesman said the company would continue to manufacture existing petrol or diesel-only models launched before 2019, but they would gradually be replaced by hybrid and fully electric cars.

High climate targets

EU legislation, which set mandatory emission targets for cars, stipulated that by 2021, the emissions of all new models and cars must not exceed 95 grammes of CO2 emissions per kilometre on average. 

Failure to comply would result in a fine.

In Sweden, the government planned to raise the tax rate on CO2 emissions in 2018, which would lead to a five-fold increase in the rate for some cars.

In concrete terms, that would translate into an increase in taxes of €630 (R9,557) per year for an owner of a Volvo V90 T5 4WD and an increase of more than €1,500 for an owner of an SUV BMX X6 M, according to calculations by specialist magazine, TeknikensVarld.

Proponents of the eco-tax argue that this was a marginal cost compared to the purchase price of these high-end models, which retailed at between €60,000 and €100,000.