Volvo has announced that from 2019, all new model releases will feature an electrified powertrain, meaning that it will either be a mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full EV. The brand will continue to sell cars solely powered by combustion engines until about 2023, depending on new model development timing.
While this is a big industry news, as no other traditional brands have committed to electrifying their entire lineup, it may not be considered as significant by the time 2019 and especially 2023 come around. Consider this as more of a brand direction announcement, rather than a major technological advancement.
As rapidly increasing consumer expectations and government regulations has the existing 12V electrical system feeling overburdened, additional power available will be provided by a 48V system.
Tier 1 automotive supplier, Continental, expects the system to fill the gap between the current mild-hybrid and the full electric vehicles, providing 70% of the advantage of a higher power system but at 30% the cost. The system’s main roles will be reducing the load currently placed on the internal combustion engine and enable further advances and usage of electronics.
Currently being used in European markets by Audi and Honda to drive their supercharger and turbocharger compressors, the system minimizes the phenomenon of boost-lag while improving fuel efficiency and emissions. In the U.S. market, the Bentley Bentayga utilizes the 48V system to power its active sway bar system to provide uncompromised off road flexibility with on-road body motion control.
Continental expects that 1 out of every 5 new cars sold will be equipped with such a system by 2025 – the same time period when Volvo is committed to 1 million vehicles with such a system.
For consumers where an EV doesn’t meet their demands or expectations, Volvo’s adaptive approach towards an an electrified future uniquely positions the brand within the industry. And for many consumers, being environmentally responsible is among the top purchase priorities, right along with safety.