China and the US drives Volvo away from diesel for next-generation S60

By Tom Wiltshire
1 / 2

Volvo plans for half of car sales to be electric and one third autonomous by 2025

The brand also expects half of its annual sales to be through the Care by Volvo subscription service

Volvo has said that the latest version of its S60 saloon will not be sold in diesel form due to the lack of demand from key markets the USA and China.

“It’s a market-related decision to not introduce diesel for the S60,” said Lutz Stiegler, Volvo’s director of powertrains. “The classic ‘sedan’ market is in the US and China. These are typically petrol markets, and we don’t see the S60 having such a large market share in Europe.”

Volvo’s decision regarding the S60 is certainly in line with the manufacturer’s current powertrain strategy.

The brand has already committed to producing only electric or hybrid cars from 2019, with the latter likely to take the form of 48V mild electrification as well as the plug-in hybrid models already on the market.

“Since we’re going more in general towards electrification, we will replace the diesel engines, at least in small cars, with electrified models,” said Stiegler.

All good news for planet-friendly carbuyers, then. But how do hybrids suit those who might traditionally buy a diesel saloon – long-distance drivers who spend a large amount of time on motorways?

“For short and medium distance, the plug-in hybrid is definitely an advantage. You can drive without any emissions, plus they’re very good from a drivability point of view – plug-in hybrids are fun cars to drive.

“For long-distance driving? Yes, diesel still has better efficiency. That’s not going to be changed, at least not by Volvo.”

The company has already spoken about its use of hybrids as a stepping stone towards full electrification. The brand’s scalable platform which underpins all its cars has been built with electrification in mind, and a fully electric version of the XC40 compact SUV is on the way.

“We will be dependent on charging infrastructure for that,” said Stiegler. “Plug-in hybrids are something we can easily roll out on today’s infrastructure because these are cars people mainly charge at home.

“But for the future, if we want to introduce more fully electrified models, then we are dependent on the charging infrastructure.”

Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson spelled out the company’s future in a statement: “Our future is electric and we will no longer develop a new generation of diesel engines. We will phase out cars with only an internal combustion engine, with petrol hybrid versions as a transitional option as we move towards full electrification. The new S60 represents the next step in that commitment.”