UK motorists are finding it easier to understand the benefits of electric cars than they are modern, clean diesel engines, according to Volvo UK’s managing director.
Speaking to The Car Expert at the recent launch of the new Volvo XC60, Jon Wakefield said that there is now a growing real understanding of what electrification of cars can provide. “That education is coming from all sorts of areas, not just the just the automotive industry,” he said. “It always helps to give people the facts, so they can make their own minds up.”
Volvo has recently committed to all of its new cars sold after 2019 having some form of electric motor. These will include hybrids – these combine petrol or diesel engines with electric motors and are now significantly growing in popularity. Toyota recently reported what it described as an “unprecedented” 30% surge in hybrid sales.
The Government has just announced its intention to ban sales of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, but hybrid vehicles will not be included in the ban.
Diesel image misses new tech
Meanwhile, there is a growing backlash against diesel engines in the market, but according to Wakefield the ‘black smoke image’ of diesels being generated by some media is not taking account of the latest engine technology such as in Volvo’s Drive-e range.
“The diesel sector is more riddled with misunderstanding than electrification,” he said. “In the smaller segments there is definitely a switch from diesel towards petrol engines, but in larger cars diesel is still holding its own.”
He adds that the education of the buying public is key to the future of diesel, and points to anecdotal information from dealers that suggests that the market for large diesel cars in London – focus of much of the air quality publicity – appears to be strengthening. “People in London have realised there is a diesel issue, but they have then read the facts and realised that our diesel engines are very clean and very efficient,” Wakefield said.
However, he does not see any increasing backlash against diesel engines as a future issue for Volvo. “We have diesel engines, we have petrol engines, and we will be electrifying. If the market moves away from diesel we are well equipped to go with it.”