When people talk about electric vehicles, the conversation usually revolves around companies like Tesla, GM/Chevrolet, and Nissan who, thus far, have dominated the EV market.
However, the conversation is generally just that — a conversation. The truth is that most car companies are simply manufacturing and selling EVs to meet regulations put out by government agencies as opposed to actually turn a profit. Tesla is the big exception here, but with only two cars available and an average price point of more than $100,000, they aren’t going to be dominating the overall U.S. car market anytime soon. The result of this is that EVs only make up 1/10 of 1 percent of cars on the road in the U.S. With less than 0.7 percent of new car sales coming from EVs, that didn’t look likely to change anytime soon. That is, until Volvo came onto the scene.
Volvo, a relatively small car company, is best known for innovations in safety technology and not much else, but that’s about to change. The Swedish company recently announced that by 2019, consumers will be able to buy any and all Volvo models with a plug-in electric option — no ifs, ands, or buts. That’s a big deal.
Whereas most car companies have put just a few electric car options on the market and targeted a niche audience, Volvo is turning that (unsuccessful) strategy on its head and saying, “Look, you can get the car you want, and get an electric vehicle. You don’t have to choose.”
This move will not only benefit Volvo’s bottom line, but the consumer as well. The truth is, the average American has a commute of of less than 13 miles, and could see huge savings in fuel costs by owning a plug-in electric vehicle with an electric range of of 27 miles (which is what Volvo’s EVs will offer). And because these Volvo models will have a dedicated gasoline engine as well, when drivers run out of charge they’ll be able to simply switch engines. No range anxiety here.
By offering consumers the option to add a plug to any vehicle, they are reaching a whole audience of people who would otherwise never consider owning an electric car. It’s a brilliant move, and one that many auto manufacturers may be scrambling to imitate in the coming years.
Ideally, car companies would offer this kind of flexibility for all their vehicles and for more fuels than just electric. People would be able to choose the model of car they wanted, and then choose the fuel system that works best for them, be it flex-fuel, CNG, electric, hydrogen, or pure gasoline. Instead, we’ve got a system that locks us into one fuel regardless of what we want, and everyone — except for the companies supplying that one fuel — is worse off.
Good on Volvo for being the first major automaker to truly embrace the fuel choice revolution, and here’s to hoping their coming success spurs other car companies to do the same.
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