European automakers have moved quickly in the past two years to slow or halt internal combustion engine investment.
PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares said in November that the automaker was halting new spending on gasoline or diesel engine programs. PSA is adapting to the potential reality of the EU ending sales of internal combustion engine vehicles no later than 2040, Tavares said at a Reuters automotive summit. “That’s clear,” he said. “We are not investing more.”
Volvo Cars was an early mover in electrification announcements and the company received a lot of publicity by saying in 2018 that it would electrify its fleet by 2025, with half of sales being EVs.
CEO Hakan Samuelsson doubled down on that promise last year, saying that he envisions the Swedish automaker becoming an electric-only brand by 2030.
He said at a Financial Times event in November that he was in favor of firm deadlines for the end of combustion engine sales rather than cash incentives, much the way seat belt or airbag mandates forced automakers make changes.
“Once you have realized that the petrol and diesel engine are really not part of the future, it’s rather easy to see you have to move fast into the new world,” Samuelsson said. He added that Volvo will not wait for policy positions to become law to electrify.
“Volvo will be very careful and deliver only electric engines before anybody has legal requirements for this,” Samuelsson said.
Bentley is another automaker that is anticipating regulations. By 2026, the Volkswagen Group ultraluxury brand will offer only plug-in hybrids and full-electric models and it will become electric-only in the following few years. “By 2030, no more combustion engines,” CEO Adrian Hallmark said. “The future of Bentley will be fully electric.”
Bentley sees the silent operation and generous torque characteristic of EVs as particularly suited for luxury cars.
Daimler shares that view, as it prepares to roll out its Mercedes-Benz EQS full-electric sedan next year, soon after the introduction last autumn of the S-Class, which is about the same size and also aimed at high net worth buyers.
The EQS is the flagship EV for Mercedes – which was founded by Carl Benz, who patented the first gasoline-powered car in 1886 – as it prepares to spend 70 billion euros ($85 billion) on electrification and digitialization by 2025. Most of that money, announced in a business plan approved in November, will go toward electrifying the Mercedes lineup.