Putting The Volt Into Volvo

The automaker's electric-car strategy includes plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid technologies, as well as all-electric options.

Volvo Cars is on track for a fourth consecutive year of record-breaking sales. Strong growth in China and continued signs of recovery in the US will help its global retail sales reach more than 461,000 vehicles—an increase of 8.6% for the first 10 months of 2017 compared with the previous year.

In November, Volvo president and CEO, Håkan Samuelsson, was awarded the Golden Steering Wheel, Germany’s most prestigious automotive-business award, for the pivotal role he has played in overseeing the wholesale operational and financial transformation of Volvo and for the car manufacturer’s electrification strategy and subsequent launch of its high-performance electric-car arm, Polestar.

Explaining the decision behind the award, Tom Drechsler, chief automotive editor of Bild Group and Auto Bild magazine, said that this year, “Samuelsson took the decision to electrify every new Volvo model entering the market from 2019 and will be the first European producer to challenge Tesla, also from 2019, with three new models of the new electric–performance brand Polestar.”

Volvo’s electric-car strategy includes plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid technologies, as well as all-electric options, which will help it comply with a European Commission law that limits average new-car CO2 emissions to 95 grams per kilometer by 2021.

“We’re doing this because we think this is the right future for Volvo Cars and that it will make us stronger,” says Samuelsson. “It’s sound business.”

Volvo has also agreed to sell tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles to ride-sharing company Uber between 2019 and 2021.

“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology, and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” says Samuelsson, adding that its “aim is to be the supplier of choice for [autonomous-vehicle] ride-sharing service providers globally.”

A deal with Volvo’s Chinese owner, Geely, to jointly invest €640 million ($753 million) to support the initial phase of Polestar’s product, brand and industrial development will surely cement Samuelsson’s, and Volvo’s, role as an electrification leader.