How Significant is Volvo’s Move Away From Traditional Engines?

Volvo is the first mainstream automaker to go all-electric or hybrid.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station 2 7.6.17-jn

The United States will have to significantly grow its infrastructure for electric vehicles to keep up with the electrification goals touted by major automakers.

Jennifer Pruss/WDET

This week Volvo announced its line of cars will all be electric or hybrid-electric in two years. Multiple reports indicate the automaker is betting on the death of the conventional combustion engine in the long run. Volvo is the first major automaker to join electric-car company Tesla in its pursuit of a cleaner line of cars, and Tesla surpassed Ford and GM in market value this year.  There’s no denying that the industry — as with many industries in the world — is changing dramatically, in part as a response to climate change and other global forces. What will the auto industry and the cars we drive, and the roads we travel, look like in five or ten years?

Paul Eisenstein, publisher of, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss what Volvo is going to do and the effect it will have.

Eisenstein says there is a common misconception around this topic. He says the move does not indicate Volvo is totally abandoning the internal combustion engine.

“They are going all electric, but they’re also going to keep the gas engine around,” says Eisenstein. “Going forward, they are going to have at least three different types of electrified power trains-conventional gas electric hybrids, plug in hybrids, and pure battery electric vehicles.”

But Eisenstein says the move is still significant and revolutionary in some ways.

“It is the first mainstream automaker that is going to a strategy that has every single vehicle in some form of electrification.”

Not only are these cars better for the environment, but he says they are also surprisingly quick and more cost efficient.

“As Volvo is showing, you can get a lot of performance out of a hybrid or… a plug-in hybrid, he says. “Public chargers will be significantly cheaper than the cost of gas.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


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