Volvo Bets Big on Electric Cars, Joining Market That’s 75 Times Larger Than It Was In 1991

Jul 05, 2017

There were more than 75 times the number of alternative fuel or hybrid cars offered in the U.S. in 2016 as there were in 1991 — the field has gone from 2 to 155.

Volvo announced Wednesday that all its new vehicles would be electric or hybrid after 2019, becoming the latest automaker to expand their hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) offerings.

The Chinese-owned Swedish company will introduce five new fully-electric models between 2019 and 2021, three of which will be Volvos while two will be branded as the automaker's performance brand, Polestar.

The Volvo announcement follows the reveal of Tesla's Model 3, the most affordable vehicle yet from the electric-only automaker.

This move puts Volvo in competition with Tesla. Other luxury auto brands are also looking to secure a chunk of the rising hybrid and electric sales. BMW announced an electric version of the 3 series in September and has already marketed its hybrid sedan as an alternative to joining the waiting list for a Tesla model.

While hybrid and electric vehicles made up only 4.2% of car production in the U.S. in 2016, according to preliminary figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, automakers are beginning to position themselves for a future without solely combustion engine-powered vehicles. The alternative fuel and hybrid models available to the American public have increased from two — the flexible fuel Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Lumina— in 1991 to more than 155 options from 47 automakers last year.

"This is about the customer,"said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo president and chief executive, in a statement. "People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs."

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