Volvo’s the latest to ditch diesel

New S60 will not come with a diesel option


Volvo has pledged that it won’t launch any new diesel models, starting with the new S60 saloon and V60 estate. Speaking at a Financial Times event on the future of transport, Hafan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive, said that “We’re not saying diesel is more dirty, but it is more complicated and more expensive.”

Samuelsson went on to explain that Volvo now feels that hybrid, mild-hybrid, and plugin-hybrid technology have overtaken diesel not just in terms of reducing emissions, but also now in terms of cost, both at the time of vehicle development, and when that vehicle is subsequently in use.

“Diesel will be much more complicated for more consumers, and much more expensive, too” Samuelsson said to the FT. He did admit that a major advantage of diesel was long-range driving and low fuel consumption, but countered that the same benefits could now be achieved by the new generation of 48-volt mild-hybrids, which use electric starter-generator motors to help power the car’s engine for short bursts, but come without the weight and complication of more conventional hybrids.

Hybrid future

Volvo has said that it will continue to sell the diesel engines which are currently on sale in its range, but that these will be progressively phased out in favour of hybridisation as the new powertrains are ready. Investment in new diesel engines will cease.

That makes Volvo the fourth major car maker to swear off diesel in recent weeks, following similar promises by Toyota, Fiat-Chrylser, and Nissan. In fact, Volvo’s promise goes further than most of those other car makers - because the Swedes don’t make any commercial vehicles (Volvo Trucks is a separate company) Volvo will excise diesel from its entire range, while the likes of Toyota and Fiat will continue making diesel engines for their vans, pickups, and other commercial vehicles.

The fact that Volvo is increasingly focused on the Chinese market (it is, of course, owned outright by Chinese car maker Geely, and last year transferred all production of the S90 saloon out of Sweden to a factory in China) will doubtless have played a major part in this decision. Diesel for passenger cars is, effectively, a non-starter in China already.

Volvo had initially launched its new XC40 crossover as a diesel-only vehicle in Ireland, but it is now introducing 2.0-litre T4 and 1.5-litre T3 petrol models, and a plugin-hybrid version is due for launch later this year.

The V60 estate and S60 saloon will go on sale shortly, with two plugin hybrid options - 340hp T6 and 400hp T8 versions. The outgoing V60 was available with a D6 plugin diesel hybrid, but it was hamstrung by a combination of high price and poor real-world fuel consumption.