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Volvo CEO

Volvo customers looking for a diesel engine in their next new car might need to act sooner rather than later, as the increasingly-controversial fuel could be on the way out.

That’s the call from Volvo CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, who reportedly told a German newspaper that the current round of diesels from the Chinese-owned, Swedish carmaker could be the last.

While Volvo’s position as a ‘green’ global carmaker will be in the minds of the company’s decision-makers, the cost of ongoing development to meet ever-tightening emissions standards could be the major motivating factor.

“From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” Samuelsson said, speaking with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

However, when pressed on the issue by Reuters, Samuelsson reportedly softened his stance, saying that diesel still has a role to play in reducing emissions thanks to the frugal nature of diesel engines.

To that end, diesels have at least a few bright years ahead, according to Samuelsson.

Above and top of page: Volvo's current Drive-E engines, introduced in 2013

“We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology,” Samuelsson reportedly said in a statement. “As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required.”

Mr Samuelsson said diesels would play an important role in Volvo’s ongoing commitment to Euro emissions targets, at least until 2020.

From there, diesel technology may be phased out – from 2020 to 2023 or beginning in 2023.

The natural replacement, according to Samuelsson, will be plug-in hybrids. The CEO believes costs for PHEV-powered models will continue to decline, making PHEVs more attractively-priced against diesel models.

“We have to recognise that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up,” Samuelsson said. “In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”

But the situation for Volvo’s European markets right now sees diesel models account for more than 50 percent of sales, rising to an eye-opening 90 percent for the XC90 SUV.

Customer demand, therefore, could see the Volvo diesel fight on for quite a few years yet.

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