Volvo CEO Jim Rowan thinks that going at a reduced speed towards an all-electric future, all while continuing to develop combustion engine models is a mistake. The statements, which were made during the carmaker’s earnings call last week, come as a warning to companies like Toyota, which argued against going on an EV-only trajectory.
According to Automotive News, Rowan said that investing in internal combustion engines and battery-electric vehicles “risks missing the market” and that Volvo was bold enough to invest in electrification ahead of the inflection point that he says is imminent.
"The big problem with industry transitions is if you don't invest ahead of the curve, then you miss that inflection point, and you're not ready for when the market changes," he said. "We are investing ahead of the curve."
At the beginning of February, we reported that Toyota is planning on increasing its sales of both electric vehicles and internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, with a company official arguing that a diversified approach to power sources is the way to go:
"Time will show that our point of view is actually the correct one," Toyota’s Chief Scientist, Gill Pratt, said in Tokyo. "One way or the other, there will be a diversity of powertrains used throughout the world."
Now, Volvo’s CEO says that by 2025 the Swedish car brand will reach price parity between ICE and EV models and that until now, the only thing that stood in the way of full-scale electrification was the high cost of raw materials, especially lithium, a key element in modern high-voltage batteries.
"That's pretty much the only thing that stands in the way of full-scale adoption," Rowan said. "We are in discussions with mines and processing factories to get direct access to [lithium] at more predictable costs," he said, adding that technologies like lithium iron phosphate will help lower the cost of EVs even further.
Volvo wants to become an electric-only car brand by the turn of the decade, with one of the most aggressive transition plans in the automotive industry. The Chinese-backed European marque already has the C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge in its EV lineup, but to reach its goal it needs more diversity, which will come in the form of the EX90 seven-seater and the smaller EX30, which will slot under the XC40 in terms of size and price, and will only be offered on a subscription basis.