Volvo CEO criticizes EU, says “it is far too early to dismiss fossil fuels”


When it comes to electric cars the automotive industry has been polarized on how best to tackle the growing electric market. Companies like Toyota threw in their support for hybrid vehicles early on with vehicles like the Prius, while others like Nissan – and its Leaf — opted to produce an all-electric car for the mass market. General Motors approached the problem with a different solution, releasing the Chevrolet Volt which utilized a hybrid gas-electric powertrain. Of course, not to be left out, Ford will offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric versions of its 2013 Fusion and 2013 Focus later this year.

And while most companies seek to implement a more robust electric strategy, some still believe the shift towards electrification is taking place too rapidly, and that unrealistic goals being set by governing bodies will harm the automotive industry.

Speaking at an industry seminar in Brussels, Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby candidly let loose his opinion on the current state of electric auto industry stating that it is “far too early to dismiss the conventional diesel and petrol powertrains.”

In his speech, Jacoby asked for increased and continued support of vehicle electrification from the EU governments. He also pointed out that government mandates set out by the EU – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent by 2050 and the reduction of nearly half of conventionally fueled cars in cities by 2030 (and later phased out altogether by 2050) – will be virtually unachievable without help — highlighting the prohibitive cost of electric vehicles and lack of infrastructure as the biggest obstacles.

Of course Jacoby isn’t arguing against electric cars — Volvo has its own C30 electric and XDC60 plug-in hybrid in the works – instead he is calling on uniformity and coordinated government incentives for electric vehicles in Europe.


As it stands now, each European government offers different incentives. For example, in the U.K. consumers wishing to purchase an eligible EV are given a 25-percent grant towards the total cost of the car, which is capped at £5,000 (about $7,800). Other EU countries like Spain and Ireland offer similar grants to those offered in the U.K, while countries such as Germany and the Netherlands offer no direct purchase subsidies, but instead offer exemption from annual registration fees and taxes.

The absence of a harmonized approach to EV incentives, Jacoby argues, is one of the main reasons holding back the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. “European car manufacturers are facing a very difficult challenge when CO2 legislation requiring electrified cars are implemented without initiatives that make these cars affordable for a growing number of consumers,” explained Jacoby.

Indeed, according to figures, only 50,000 battery electric vehicles were sold in the world in 2011. According to a study conducted by the European Commission: ‘A European Strategy on Clean and Energy Efficient Vehicles,’ the market share of EVs – both electric and plug-in hybrids — are predicted to increase by only 3-4 percent by 2020, and later rise to 30 percent by 2030.

Those figures, argued Jacoby, are wholly unrealistic, stating that “the market share for electrified vehicles will struggle to pass the one percent mark by 2020.”

But it isn’t just unrealistic targets, lack of standardized funding, and uniform governmental incentives that Jacoby and Volvo are concerned about. With countries like China earmarking nearly $15 billion towards its electric vehicle industry – a figure that far outstrips the EU and the U.S. – Jacoby warns that if nothing is done, the Europe automotive industry risks losing its present role as a technological leader.


Qiantu K50 is a Chinese electric sports car that’s coming to the U.S.

The Qiantu K50 is a Chinese electric sports car that will be marketed in the United States by California-based Mullen Technologies. The carbon-fiber bodied, 402-horsepower K50 is expected to go on sale in 2020.

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.

From rugged wagons to hot sports cars, the 2019 NY Auto Show brought it all

From city cars to supercars, anything goes at the New York Auto Show. Automakers from all over the globe traveled to the 2019 show to unveil their newest concept cars and production models.

Karma Automotive unveils two head-turning concept cars, quicker 2020 Revero GT

Karma Automotive brought three new cars to the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, including a long overdue redesigned version of its Revero plug-in hybrid, an all-electric concept car, and a concept coupe designed in concert with legendary Italian…

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

More tech and more space make the Mercedes-Benz GLS the S-Class of the SUV world

Mercedes-Benz introduced the second-generation GLS at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The company's biggest and most luxurious SUV gains more tech features in its quest to become the S-Class of the SUV world.

Would you buy the Tarok compact pickup truck? Volkswagen wants to know

The Volkswagen Tarok pickup truck concept will make its United States debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. The truck first appeared at the 2018 Sao Paulo Auto Show, and VW wants to see what U.S. buyers think of it.

Sick of civilization? Volkswagen’s Atlas Basecamp concept lets you get away

Volkswagen revealed the Atlas Basecamp concept ahead of its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Built for overlanding, this family-hauler was upgraded jointly by Volkswagen and aftermarket manufacturers.

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo sheds weight, uses racing tricks to stay sharp

The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo isn't dramatically different from the 2019 model, but Nissan made changes where it counts. The updated GT-R Nismo is lighter and offers better aerodynamic performance, according to Nissan.

Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is taking reservations for the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). The $80,000 NZT has 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

21 charged in Chicago carsharing heist; 100+ cars stolen, many still missing

More than 100 Mercedes-Benz vehicles belonging to carsharing service Car2Go were stolen in Chicago. Police are still working to recover all of the cars, which are equipped with GPS, and 21 people have been charged.

The VR goggles you wear to shoot alien ships is helping Magna design car parts

Canadian automotive supplier Magna has started using virtual reality in its research and development department. The technology helps engineers get a better view of what they're working on, whether it's an interior part or a powertrain.

Toyota leads $1 billion investment in Uber’s self-driving tech division

In a move that has been a long time coming, Uber filed its S-1 documents, which sets the stage for the company to finally go public with an initial public offering. The company could be valued at more than $100 billion.