Ditching diesel: Volvo eyes electric future as it puts the brakes on diesel engines

Rebecca Smith
The Swedish firm may have stopped developing diesel engines altogether
The Swedish firm may have stopped developing diesel engines altogether (Source: Getty)

It's not the death knell for diesel, but Swedish car firm Volvo has said its latest generation of diesel engines could be its last.

Chief executive Hakan Samuelsson told German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung this week: "From today's perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines."

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The cost of reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide is becoming increasingly steep, though the company said it had been mulling options as opposed to setting out concrete plans to halt the further development of diesel engines.

Like many car firms, Volvo has been ramping up its electric ambitions, and plans for its first pure electric model to hit the market in 2019.

Samuelsson pointed to Tesla's success, saying it had managed to offer such a car "for which people are lining up", and there should be space for Volvo "with high quality and attractive design".

Last month, Tesla's market cap topped General Motors to take the title of the most valuable US car firm, despite the fact it only sells a small fraction of the cars delivered each year by long-established competitors.

In the interview, Samuelsson said Volvo will continue improving the current range of diesel engines to meet future emission standards, with production likely to continue until around 2023.

In a statement to Reuters, Samuelsson said he felt diesel will stay play a key role in the coming years to help the firm meet targets to reduce carbon dioxide as it was more fuel-efficient than petrol engines.

"We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required," he said.

Until about 2020, Samuelsson thinks diesel will be needed to help meet the carbon dioxide emission limits set by the European Union, but then other regulations will come into force, so the costs of making engines adhere to increasingly stringent anti-pollution standards would no longer be worth it.

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