Swedish automaker Volvo says its core focus starting in 2019 will be on producing electric vehicles. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
July 5 (UPI) -- Swedish automaker Volvo said Wednesday it was marking an end to the era where its consumer fleet has vehicles powered only by the internal combustion engine.
The automaker said that vehicles launched from 2019 will have an electric motor, saying electrification was now the core part of its business focus.
"The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history," the company said in its statement.
The global fleet of electric vehicles accounts for 0.2 percent of the total number of passenger vehicles on the road. In June, parties to an effort steered in part by the International Energy Agency set a goal of 30 percent new electrical vehicle sales by 2030.
About 2 million electric vehicles were on the road last year, though three markets -- China, the European Union and the United States -- accounted for more than 90 percent of that total.
On the low-end, the IEA estimates the number of electric vehicles on the road will at least quadruple globally by 2020, but incentives are needed to drive sales because larger trucks and SUVs lead by volume.
A separate report from Norwegian energy company Statoil found that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles could potentially account for 90 percent of the passenger vehicles on the road by 2050, but the aviation and maritime transport sectors will still rely heavily on conventional fuels.
"This is about the customer," Volvo Cars President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said. "People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish."
General Motors, one of the so-called Big Three in the United States, produced 11 vehicle models that have some form of electrification. Last year, it teamed up with Chevrolet to introduce heavy-duty vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. Ford Motor Co. said it will have at least seven electric vehicles available within the next five years, including a full-electric SUV and a hybrid F-150, its best-selling heavy-duty truck.
A report Monday from the IEA said that the heavy semi-trucks used to ship goods will produce as much pollution as coal used in the power and industrial sectors combined. The sector already accounts for about 30 percent of total transport-related carbon emissions and about 20 percent of total emissions of nitrogen oxides, the primary components of air pollution.