Volvo Has The Flexibility To Meet Possible Diesel Problems.
Environment, Responsibility Will Be Key Points In Premium Market.
Volvo believes that if political pressure makes the demand for diesel engines slide, it will be able to make up the shortfall with petrol engines and plug-in hybrids.
About 90 per cent of Volvo cars in Europe are diesel. Recent media reports have questioned the ability of some new Euro6 diesel engines to meet the cleanliness regulations during all operations. This has led environmentalists lobbying politicians in Brussels to insist that diesel engine testing assumes more real world elements.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson, at a media briefing at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham, said the company was well placed increase the proportion of gasoline engines if needed, not least because of its expertise in plug-in hybrids. Volvo was the biggest seller of plug-ins amongst the premium manufacturers, he said.
Samuelsson conceded there was likely to be a smaller proportion of diesel engines by 2020, but declined to speculate by how much.
Volvo plans to increase global sales to 800,000 in the early 2020s. Last year it sold 465,866 vehicles and targets 500,000 this year.
“We are trying to have a totally new company which is global and premium,” Samuelsson said.
China’s Zhejiang Geely Golding Group Co bought Volvo from Ford Motor Co in 2010. Volvo has decided to build a plant in South Carolina which will start production in 2018 and should reach 100,000 quickly thereafter.
During a speech to the Congress, Samuelsson said Volvo aimed to make simplicity of operation a compelling reason to buy. One of his slides showed three numbers – 55, 37 and eight. Two of three German premium manufacturers had 55 and the other 37 buttons to control main functions, whereas the new XC-90 need just eight.
In the race for premium sales, Samuelsson said his focus was on reaching customers who are less interested in horsepower and more focussed on taking responsibility for the environment and their family.a