Volvo’s chief executive Hakan Samuelsson casually dropped a massive bomb into the middle of an interview with German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung this month.
“From today's perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” Samuelsson said. The Volvo PR machine subsequently went into full spin mode, claiming that Samuelsson had been discussing options rather than a firm plan to stop the further development of diesel engines.
Samuelsson later emailed to Reuters to clarify that he believed diesel would still play a crucial role in the next few years in helping the company meet targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, being more fuel-efficient than petrol engines.
However, Wheels spoke to Volvo’s drivetrain director, Lutz Stiegler, last week who confirmed that the jig was indeed up for diesels. When asked about investment in next-gen diesels, his answer was an unequivocal “we will not do this.”
“Diesel will be around for the next five to 10 years. Electrification is our future but for now we must build the cars our customers want,” he said. He also nixed plans for a three-cylinder diesel that had been rumoured, claiming the efficiency gains over a four-pot were not great enough to justify the costs in developing the engine.
Therefore the diesel engine family fitted to the latest XC60 will be the last the Swedish company builds. The good news is that they look good enough to last Volvo through to its phased withdrawal and the 300kW plug-in hybrid XC60 T8 range-topper is a mouthwatering glimpse into Volvo’s diesel-free future.