Electrification is the right step forward for Volvo, according to its company CEO Hakan Samuelsson. In an interview with WardsAuto, he added that diesel engines would not be able to remain competitive in the future as well.

This is due to the increasingly stringent emissions standards set by the European Union, where by 2021, the fleet average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to be achieved by all new cars is 95 g/km. Along with the ever-decreasing nitrogen dioxide (NOx) limits, diesel engines would not be a good fit in Volvo’s future plans, although they are still relevant for now.

“Looking further down the line, at under 95, diesel will not be able to help us. Only electrification can. The combustion engine will more and more be combined with hybridization, whether that be diesel or petrol. Of course, improving the efficiency of the combustion engine is more or less done, so the next step has to be hybridization and pure-electric cars,” said Samuelsson.

He also stated that Volvo’s first electric vehicle (EV) will be launched in 2019 but did not disclose further details. “We are developing not just one model but electrification for the small platform and also for the larger platforms, and we haven’t revealed which one will be the first,” he hinted.

It was previously reported that Volvo’s first battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and a new 48 V mild hybrid system will arrive in 2019, followed by its T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain in 2018. For the former, Volvo will develop modular battery packs that can be fitted to the company’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) and Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platforms to meet different needs.

Samuelsson also prioritises the driving experience when it comes to EVs, saying: “The driving experience with a fully electric vehicle is really very good with high acceleration (and) quiet, little or no transmission noise, so once we bring down the cost it becomes a very good proposition. People will buy it not just because of lower emissions, but because it’s good technology.”

In regards to infrastructure, the Volvo CEO was adamant that automakers should not be expected to provide and fund EV infrastructure. “If someone sees a credible future where electric cars are pumped out onto the market, then it’s a good business to invest in that infrastructure. I don’t see that we, as carmakers, need to invest in that infrastructure,” he explained.

Volvo also doubts the future of hydrogen fuel-cell cars like those offered by Toyota (Mirai) and Honda (Clarity Fuel Cell), and will prefer to focus on one energy source instead. “Of course, you should never say never, but right now it’s important for us to be clear,” said Samuelsson.

“The grass is always greener on the other side and there is always something new, but battery electrification is what we believe in. With hydrogen you would require all new infrastructure once more, so I think there is a limit to what people will invest in. We believe we have to focus on one main energy source and we believe that is electrification because it’s more flexible. Of course, we might be wrong,” he continued.