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Hybrid car sales to surpass diesel in next two years, believes Volvo

Published: 26 May 2016

► Diesels set to become pricier
► Hybrid cars more cost effective?
► 'Sales curves to cross in two years’ time'

Sales of hybrid cars are set to catch up with diesel models in the next two years, says Volvo president Håkan Samuelsson.

Speaking to journalists at the reveal of the Volvo’s new 40-series concepts, Samuelsson said: ‘Within a couple of years we will see a crossover in cost between diesel and hybrid. Future diesels will become more complex, with more after-treatment required, and therefore more expensive.

‘[Diesel car owners] may need to refill [exhaust treatment urea] fluids not once a year, but every time they fill up. Diesel cars’ share of the market is likely to go down as a result, with some transfer to hybrids.’

Why Volvo hybrids will be as profitable as diesels

Samuelsson explained that the company has worked hard to ensure the ‘same margin on a Twin Engine hybrid model as a diesel – so Volvo will be comfortable if the diesel share goes down.’

‘In around two years’ time we believe the diesel and hybrid sales curves will cross.’ 

In terms of running costs for consumers too, Samuelsson suggests a Twin Engine hybrid Volvo can break even with a diesel on fuel consumption and tax outlay. 

Is this the end of the diesel, then?

Far from it. Volvo still expects a significant proportion of its sales overall to be made up of diesel models, with R&D chief Peter Mertens claiming that the company will still make diesels for many years to come. 

They won’t go smaller than four cylinders, though. ‘We will not do a diesel three-cylinder for the foreseeable future,' Mertens said. 'We question whether it’s a good idea.'

As for EVs, Volvo will launch a battery-electric model in 2019, most likely as a variant of one its 90-series models on its SPA platform – the S90, V90 or XC90. That will be followed shortly after by a smaller battery electric model on its new CMA platform that'll spawn the XC40 (see below).

‘We strongly believe electrification will now take off,’ added Mertens. ‘We will do the next step soon. We believe that is the right strategy going in to the end of this decade.’

Read more Volvo reviews here

Concept for new Volvo XC40

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ