Volvo Thinks You Don’t Want A Gas Engine Car

Illustration for article titled Volvo Thinks You Don’t Want A Gas Engine Car
Image: Volvo
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We always talk about how electric cars depend on infrastructure. Why? Because we know that for pretty much everybody on the road, they’re better cars. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 2, 2021.

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1st Gear: Volvo To Give Up On Gas Motors, Too

The strict news item here is that Volvo is giving up on developing or producing any gas engines anymore. (This is fun news to announce while its new batch of EVs are stuck at a port waiting on an OTA, as The Verge reports.) The phase-out means that half of its cars will be electrified by 2025, the whole lineup will be fully electric by 2030, as Reuters reports:

Volvo’s entire car lineup will be fully electric by 2030, the Chinese-owned company said on Tuesday, joining a growing number of carmakers planning to phase out fossil-fuel engines by the end of this decade.

[...]

The Swedish carmaker said 50% of its global sales should be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrid models.

The more interesting quote is that Volvo claims not that it makes no sense to put development money into internal combustion, or that it thinks the regulatory environment favors electric, but rather that consumers straight-up don’t want to deal with gas if they have the chance:

“I am totally convinced there will be no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson told reporters when asked about future demand for electric vehicles. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.”

I’ve spent a somewhat decent amount of time driving silent, steady, easy-to-use, easy-to-own EVs, and I can’t help but agree that they do a better job of transportation appliance than something with, I don’t know, a 1.4-liter four cylinder rattling away under the hood.

2nd Gear: Jaguar Spent $1.4 Billion On Electric Cars It Will Never Build

Of course, making EVs is more complicated than throwing a really big switch from “GASOLINE” to “ELECTRONS” on the side of a factory. Look at GM right now with the Bolt EUV. GM needed to refresh its EV program with new-tech models on the way. But that meant just updating the Bolt design from 2017, and that means using old electronic architecture, and that means no fast charging and a car that is seriously behind the times. It’s a trade-off. Do you patch things through as they come? Do you go all-in on the future?

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Jaguar chose the latter, as Automotive News reports:

Jaguar Land Rover canceled a planned Land Rover full-electric SUV and scaled back its program of new vehicles on the flexible Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) platform because they would not meet the automaker’s emissions and technology requirements, executives said.

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This meant cancelling at least three vehicles we know about: the upcoming all-electric XJ luxury sedan, an all-electric Land Rover dubbed the “Road Rover,” and an all-electric Jaguar J-Pace SUV. The cost is staggering, per AN:

JLR will write off 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) of investment related to those products as part of the company’s “Reimagine” strategy, Mardell told financial analysts on the investor call on Friday.

“There are costs involved, including the cancelation of the MLA-mid program, the XJ replacement and the Land Rover BEV,” Mardell said. The investment due to be written off had largely been made in 2019.

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I understand that this cut now may help Jaguar’s more modern EVs to come, but I can’t imagine the heartbreak of a Jaguar engineer who spent all of 2019 working on an electric XJ seeing their work vanish.

3rd Gear: Mercedes-Benz Missed U.S. Emissions Requirements

The U.S. sets emissions requirements for all manufacturers and Daimler missed them in 2020, as Automotive News reports:

Daimler’s decision to prioritize Europe for low-emissions Mercedes-Benz electrified vehicles led to the automaker failing to achieve fuel economy and emissions reduction targets in the U.S. and China.

Daimler focused on Europe for sales of full-electric cars and plug-in hybrids in 2020 to meet its European Union CO2 reduction target and so avoid fines.

In the U.S. and China, Mercedes fell well short of regulatory targets, according to Daimler’s annual report published on Feb. 18, forcing the automaker to spend money on regulatory credits.

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Excuse me, yes. Daimler missed its targets in the U.S. and China in favor of dodging fines in Europe. I have never seen more clear evidence that our fines are too lax.

4th Gear: India: We Can Make Teslas For Less

Everyone seems to want to throw money at Tesla to catch a little bit of shine of having a factory there. Now India wants in, as Reuters reports:

India is ready to offer incentives to ensure Tesla Inc.’s cost of production would be less than in China if the carmaker commits to making its electric vehicles in the South Asian country, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told Reuters.

Gadkari’s pitch comes weeks after billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla registered a company in India in a step towards entering the country, possibly as soon as mid-2021. Sources familiar with the matter have said Tesla plans to start by importing and selling its Model 3 electric sedan in India.

“Rather than assembling (the cars) in India they should make the entire product in the country by hiring local vendors. Then we can give higher concessions,” Gadkari said in an interview, without giving details of what incentives would be on offer.

“The government will make sure the production cost for Tesla will be the lowest when compared with the world, even China, when they start manufacturing their cars in India. We will assure that,” he said.

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Whenever governments talk about how cheap it will be to make something where they are, I get sketched out. Every single time this means exploiting workers.

5th Gear: FCA Pleads Guilty In UAW Probe

I had forgotten that the corruption scandal with the UAW and FCA was still even ongoing, but here we are, in 2021, still talking about cigars and golf courses. Reuters explains:

The U.S. unit of the Italian-American automaker, which is now part of Stellantis NV, said in January it reached agreement with U.S. prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act and pay a $30 million fine.

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The Justice Department said Fiat Chrysler conspired to make more than $3.5 million in illegal payments to then-UAW officers from 2009 through 2016.

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Several UAW officers, including the two former UAW presidents, admitted embezzling millions of dollars in total for personal benefit, using funds to purchase expensive liquor and cigars and to pay for golf outings and related equipment, and expensive hotel stays.

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I will admit that golf seems really fun. Maybe this was all worth it?

Reverse: Style Over Substance, From Then To Infinity

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Neutral: What Is Your Current Obsession?

I am spending an inordinate amount of my free time watching bike painting tutorials. I hav probably spent as much time watching these videos as it takes to prep and paint a bike. What is occupying your brain?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

oldirtybootz
oldirtybootz

1ST Gear: I mean, it’s being decided for us, so what choice are we going to have in 10-15 years? I hope someone starts thinking of how we’re going to generate the energy to charge these things though.

That said, what’s the deal with that C40? Is that new? I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of that one before.