Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby has never been the biggest fan of electric vehicles (EVs), having said in the past that mainstream affordability and widespread readiness are many years away. Speaking at the Los Angeles Auto Show today, Jacoby sounded a slightly different tune – for a while.
In a speech to the Motor Press Guild, Jacoby highlighted his company's work on plug-in vehicles. Earlier this year, Jacoby moved from Volkswagen to the top spot at Volvo and has had to adjust to his new home. After all, Volvo is further along the plug-in vehicle path than Volkswagen is. Last month, Volvo said it will offer a limited production run of electrified C30s early next year and a plug-in hybrid diesel in 2012. Compare this to VW's 2013-2014 timeline.
In any case, Jacoby touted the electric C30's zero-emission status, saying, "This car is powered solely by electricity and entirely without exhaust emissions." This is only partly true, because, as far as we know, the electric C30 has an ethanol-burning engine that provides heat to the cabin. We're going to get behind the wheel of one of these vehicles later today, so we'll double-check if anything has changed.
One thing we know has changed is Jacoby's slight softening on his anti-EV stance. Jacoby is still bullish on increased use of diesel engines in the U.S. market, but we wanted to know what convinced him to show his pro-EV side. He replied:
The longest journey start with the smallest step... onto an EV's accelerator pedal.Maybe because I've driven the Volvo prototypes. It's really fun to drive the C30 DRIVe electric. I like also the prototypes which are running on the road already with respect to the plug-in hybrid. This is a car where we are really competitive and we can utilize our knowledge with the electrification, not only for pure electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, but we will use them also to empower our traditional downsized gasoline engines. So, we are using electrification in various areas. It is an absolutely new field for us, as well. It is necessary for us to start now. It will take quite a lot of time until we see a significant share of electric vehicles in the market, but we have to work on this technology right now in order to gain experience.