Green tech is a buzz word in the automotive industry right now– but as of this week, Volvo decided to take it further than that. Much further.
According to a 2012 article on HybridCars.com, the Toyota Prius sold 223, 905 models in the United States. That same year, according to data collected by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, gas prices in America reached an average all time high, at $3.64 a gallon, before beginning a steady decline. It shouldn’t come as any shock that the world responded to the price of transportation by buying green cars, and neither should it come as a shock that when the costs of gas began to drop, so did hybrid and electric car sales.
But while the price of gas fluctuated, theories about climate change and the impact of human behavior on the environment were coming into starker focus. No longer a fad issue, everyone from politicians to actors started taking up the mantle to discuss cleaner and more effective energy, believing, quite correctly, that climate change will directly impact our day to day lives and the millions of small and large ecosystems in our world.
Volvo has now joined their ranks. In a statement released July 5, 2017, they announced the decision to phase out models reliant on an internal combustion engine and produce a line of cars that focus on electrification at the core by their 2019 lineup, embracing fully electric, plug in hybrid and mild hybrid cars.
They are the first consumer car brand to make the move.
Volvo has always been a progressive car company, but this decision to move forward on alternative energy at the forefront of the industry is important for many reasons. While Tesla continues to strive toward an elegantly designed and expertly produced future, they are still in their infancy and cannot–or will not–produce models at the rate, both in speed and price, that will ensure a road entirely comprised of alternatively-powered vehicles. Companies like Chevrolet, with the Volt–the plug in hybrid model, and the Bolt–the pure electric vehicle, are making great strides toward that future.
But not quickly enough for the world or, apparently, for Volvo.
For a long time, Volvo was known as the car to turn to for safety and innovation. It was family friendly and reliable– expensive to work on, but worth the cost. But over the last decade or so, the middle class car began to edge its way into BMW and Audi station wagon territory. Subaru quickly slid in to fill the gap, appealing to the humanitarian and largely liberal demographic with programs like charity donations with car purchase and commercials with lots of green trees.
The reliability of the Volvo became a lesser note, as almost every other company picked up on the importance of safety features and Volvo fell a little astray, actually dropping in sales in the United States from June of 2016 to June 2017 by about 7%.
But green isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the bottom line– and it’s good for the world. Producing a line up of exclusively alternative-energy cars puts Volvo ahead of the curve, and it’s a curve that each and every car company in the world is going to come upon sooner than later. Volvo’s found its new niche– now that ‘safety is important’ has become a general consensus– and the world market no longer needs to wait around for someone to dip their toe in the electrification pool. Volvo has dived in with all four tires.
Make no mistake, they will be heavily scrutinized. Car company presidents the world over will be watching to see if a company can make it without the all important internal combustion engine at the core. And, though admirable and important, a five car line up is a far smaller challenge than anything GM or Ford might have to tackle.
But that’s not the point, not really. The point is that twenty five years ago a quirky little electric car was en mass confiscated and destroyed due to shady lobbying and inappropriate relationships between businesses and politicians. Now, we’re looking at entire lineups of cars working to fade out the internal combustion engine in favor of a look at the future– both for the business and for the world. The kicker is that gas prices are low.
This isn’t a fad. This is an evolution of the industry and the world. A turning point that will hopefully effect change across the entire automotive universe and, also hopefully, soon enough to save us.
And it should be Volvo. They have the name and the history to support such a move and a small enough lineup to make it practical and responsible. They need a big change. But more than that, Volvo has always been a forerunner of industry evolution– creating the trend, rather than following it. It is much in part thanks to them that simple safety features can be found in every car built today, things we have long ago learned to rely on.
And now, we can rely on Volvo. Because, yet ago, they’re leading the charge– only this time it’s not just about keeping the consumer safe, but keeping the earth safe as well.