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Volvo Going Green

July 7, 2017

By Paul Homewood

The announcement by Volvo this week that all their new cars launched after 2019 will be either pure electric or hybrid has generated the usual hype about how electric cars will soon take over from petrol. For instance, the Daily Mail here



I think you know my views (!), but let’s look at the UK sales figures:
YTD conventional cars still account for 96% of sales. Pure electrics only sell a pitiful 0.5%.

Volvo apparently sell about 47000 cars annually in the UK, just under half the total sales of alternative fuelled cars. Volvo have evidently set out to be the leaders in electric cars, and the numbers agree that this is possible.
However, does that mean that other manufacturers will necesarily follow?

It is still unquestionably the case that pure electric cars are still stuck on the starting line, because they cannot provide what most drivers require.
Which leaves us with much overrated hybrids.

Even the motoring correspondent of the BBC acknowledges this, when he admits:

“The internal combustion engine is not dead – and won’t be for a while at least. It still offers a relatively cheap and well-proven means of getting around.”
(He obviously did not get Harrabin’s party line)


The unescapable problem is that hybrids will always be much more expensive, simply because they have to incorporate batteries and other electronic systems, as well as conventional engines.
There is very little reason why anybody would want to buy them.
The Volvo website neatly sums up the problem, with these prices for exactly the same model, the V60 SENav:

Petrol – £29295
Hybrid – £38715



Car manufacturers are of course under pressure from EU regulations to increase fuel efficiency, and may be forced to follow Volvo’s lead, but it will inevitably be drivers who end up paying the bill.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 7, 2017 8:51 pm

    “Pure electrics only sell a pitiful 0.5%.”

    And that’s with a contribution of up to £4.5k each from taxpayers, most of whom can’t afford a new car, subsidising the rich who can.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      July 8, 2017 9:07 am

      Isn’t part of the Governments assurances to Nissan that a programme of taxpayer funded recharging stations for all-electric vehicles (Nissan Leaf built in Sunderland?) will be installed across the country?

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    July 7, 2017 9:14 pm

    Volvo is part of the Geely Automobile sector of China, Inc.

    China says “Hey look, we are going green.” That’s a win.

    There is one European-bound train leaving the Daqinq factory every week, but there are plans to ramp this number up as production volumes grow.

    China’s massive cities have air pollution issues and EVs will be one of the components of a long term solution. China has coal based electricity and is building more. Close several old polluting plants with lots of fan fare; build big less-polluting ones. Make big announcement: “Hey look, we are going green.”
    Jobs will be created building out the charging network.
    China needs to keep the people happy.
    Cleaner air, more jobs, Govt. says “We’re doing Good.”
    Going green. Win. Win.
    What’s not to like.
    [Okay, not energy efficient – but that’s not the issue.]
    These folks know what they are doing.

    • markl permalink
      July 7, 2017 9:29 pm

      Funny what happens when the bribe is removed.

  3. markl permalink
    July 7, 2017 9:28 pm

    China could care less whether Volvo survives in Europe…. or not. This is a virtue signaling action and nothing more with Volvo being the guinea pig. China stands to lose the most from a world still using fossil fuels.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      July 7, 2017 11:59 pm

      Or possibly gain if they can persuade gullible Europeans to abandon coal (and oil) and reduce demand so they can buy more cheaply.

  4. July 7, 2017 10:10 pm

    Volvo is a small brand of Geely
    My guess is they are looking for a niche.
    Another Geely firm London Taxi is set to go all electric next year, but the subsidies work for them.
    Geely just bought a flying car company ..I can’t see them having a low CO2 footprint
    Group sales are claimed to be now 80K/month, but they’ve never sold a million in one year yet.

    • July 7, 2017 10:15 pm

      IT’s a bit strange that only last month a brand of Volvo was set off as a standalone electric only brand.
      Why have an electric only brand and then next minute say the who division with be EV only ?

      • tom0mason permalink
        July 8, 2017 4:03 am

        Geely Automobile sector of China, Inc. owns A123 batteries, the same company that could not supply the US auto EV disaster Fisker Karma.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 9, 2017 10:12 am

      The Geely London cab is a hybrid not an EV. They are being forced on drivers as TfL won’t license any new cabs that are not capable of being ‘zero emission’. They are also trying to force councils to put in taxi charging points but since the spec says the cab can run for 70 miles on a charge which is enough for a day, why should any taxpayer money be spent on charge points?

  5. spetzer86 permalink
    July 7, 2017 11:34 pm

    This is an older study, but repurchasing appears to be a problem in the hybrid world:

  6. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 7, 2017 11:57 pm

    Electric cars will take off as soon as a battery with 4 times the current best power to weight ratio is available cheaply enough.

    • Hivemind permalink
      July 8, 2017 10:40 am

      With a 5 minute charging time.

  7. stuartlarge permalink
    July 8, 2017 1:17 am

    Some small diesel cars have better MPG than hybrids

  8. July 8, 2017 3:16 am

    And the battery life is …. and the replacement battery plus installation and disposal of the old one is ……

    Think Volvo has a financial interest in battery production somehow?

  9. Stonyground permalink
    July 8, 2017 7:13 am

    The remnants of the Saab car company are heading in the same direction. From the Top Gear website:

    “The Saab name will no longer appear on cars. You might think it has been dead for years. But NEVS, the company that bought the Saab factory, is planning to build an electrified version of the 9-3 from 2017.

    Today it announced that car will be badged NEVS and not Saab. The Saab badge reverts to the aircraft company.

    NEVS – National Electric Vehicle Sweden – is a Chinese-founded company that continues to employ many ex-Saab engineers. They work in Trollhattan, and also in China. Their efforts since the foundation of NEVS have been entirely on electric cars and infrastructure.”

    I have a Saab 9-3 1.9TD Estate. It is a wonderful car and I am sad that I won’t be able to buy another one when it dies. My daughter is at university and it has made the 280 mile round trip many times without a single problem. As you can imagine it is generally cram full of her stuff. I wouldn’t drive an electric one if you gave it to me.

  10. Mike Jackson permalink
    July 8, 2017 8:58 am

    Monsieur Hulot (no, not that one, though hard to tell) tells me that by 2040 every car in France will be electric.

    He foresees the end of the “internal combustion engine”, oblivious to the fact that internal combustion, ie generating the power where it is going to be used, is the most efficient form of power generation there is. So far all we have is typical eco-talk and hopefully someone, maybe Macron even since he appears to have an unusual level of nous for a politician, might ask him to explain where all the electricity is coming from. Expect the answer “Pas mon problème, mon vieux!”

    Like all eco-warriors the grand principle (or do I mean the “grandstanding”?) is all that counts. He believes it is right therefore it must be possible and the little people can work out the details!

    (On second thoughts, if Macron had that much nous he wouldn’t have appointed an ecologist to be his Environment minister. It’s a bit like making Dracula Minister of Health.)

    • Curious George permalink
      July 8, 2017 10:50 pm

      Internal combustion has a low efficiency, usually under 40%. Fuel cells promise to be much better, but they are not there yet.

  11. keith permalink
    July 8, 2017 10:21 am

    With France, or should I say the French region of Germany, proposing to close it’s nuclear power stations and replace them with renewable energy, I wonder where the power will come from to power all the electric cars, trucks and buses France will have. Perhaps they’ll provide a free hand power generator to charge your car up with.
    No I don’t think Macon has any nous. He is a typical stupid green politician who has no pragmatic sense. He’ll just drive France further into the ground which Hollande started. Doing whatever Germany tells him.

  12. July 8, 2017 5:20 pm

    I believe that the “wizard car” will go a whopping 200 miles on a charge. Can’t wait for the videos of them rolling to a halt on the LA Freeways.

    What do you do if you make trips to Washington, DC (220 mi) or Knoxville, TN (420 mi) at least once a year? You sit at some expensive charging station for how many hours? No thanks.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 9, 2017 10:16 am

      They don’t do joined up thinking. Take the throughput of a filling station in an hour on a busy day and then transfer that into vehicles charging batteries. Just how large an area will they need? Space is less of an issue in most of the US but in the UK it is just not there.

  13. McNeil permalink
    July 9, 2017 3:40 pm

    A free house at the bottom of a hill with all purchases.

  14. andy mckendrick permalink
    July 9, 2017 6:43 pm

    Motel at every charging station…business opportunity awaits…

  15. July 10, 2017 6:36 am

    Oops! “Electric car gutted by flames after it set fire while charging”

  16. Green Sand permalink
    July 12, 2017 1:17 pm

    The EV lark not proving to be as simple as some presumed!

    ‘Electric car company Faraday Future abandons plans for Nevada factory’

    I am at a loss to what the following actual means:-

    “……On Monday night, Faraday issued a statement saying the factory plans had been “put on hold [as we shift] our business strategy to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility”.

    “As a result of this shift in direction, we are in the process of identifying a manufacturing facility that presents a faster path to start-of-production and aligns with future strategic options.”

    Faraday said it still had “long-term vehicle manufacturing” plans for in Nevada, and that its attempts to raise further financing for the project were “continuing as planned”……”

    Ho hum…..

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