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Car and Driver: Volvo Pledges to Sell 1 Million Electrified Vehicles By 2025: No Way


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2016 Volvo XC90 T8 hybrid

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As Volvo launches its second plug-in hybrid this year, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker has placed a sales wager: 1 million electrified Volvos worldwide by 2025.

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Volvo announced in October it would make a plug-in hybrid version of every model it sells and launch an all-electric model in 2019 on the SPA platform, which underpins the S90, XC90, and next-gen S60/V60. Now Volvo says it will offer two plug-in hybrid trims for every model to reach that goal of 1 million units sold over nine years.

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But that number doesn’t align with Volvo’s other statements in October, which said that plug-in hybrids would account for roughly 10 percent of annual car sales starting sometime “early” next decade, or 80,000 cars per year. Even if Volvo reaches that split in 2020 and maintains it, it would need 600,000 sales of the forthcoming all-electric model within just six years. Tesla has managed to sell close to 120,000 Model S sedans over almost four years. Nissan hit the 200,000 mark in December, five years after the Leaf launched. Volvo has had trouble selling the few hundred XC90 T8 plug-in hybrids currently in inventory across the U.S., which range from $70,000 to nearly $90,000. It’s difficult for any luxury automaker to move precious metal in high volumes, especially considering that the XC90’s electric range barely matches the distance the vehicle can travel on one-half gallon of gasoline.

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If Volvo’s pledge sounds like President Obama in 2011—when he set a goal to have 1 million electrified cars on U.S. roads by 2015 (by which time the market had absorbed only 400,000)–that’s because it’s equally unrealistic. Volvo has also pledged to build cars in which no one would die or be seriously injured by 2020. These are laudable goals. Whether they’re actually achievable or just encouraging words meant for the ears of shareholders and government regulators is the real question.

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