Bye Bye Volvo

According to a report I read in yesterday’s Dead Tree newspaper (online link), Volvo has decided to stop making gasoline-powered cars altogether; all future Volvo models will be exclusively electrically-powered.

Let’s be honest about this. Volvo has always been a niche brand in the U.S. — even the venerable 240D wagon was pretty much beloved only by academics and a few soccer moms of the period — so it appears that the Swedes (or Chinese, if you prefer their actual ownership) have decided to make the brand even more niche-ier: trading the twenty or so people who wanted to buy Volvos for the nine people who want to buy electric cars (or the two people who want to buy specifically a Volvo electric car).

That’s for the U.S. market, of course. Maybe this will work for Volvo in Europe, where they only have to travel a few miles between destinations and the electric cars there need weekly recharges (instead of hourly, in America). Who knows? stranger things have been known to happen Over Here, but I have to tell you, I just don’t see it.

I was going to end this post with “Sic transit Volvo“, except that “volvo” in Latin means “I roll” so the phrase would make no sense. But you know what I mean.


  1. So, it is Bye Bye I Roll?

    Never did see the use of one myself. Knew some people that had 240d’s. parts where hard to source and frequently needed. Rust buckets all of them here in the Midwest. Always amazed me how fast they turned into rust considering the place in the world they came from. Maybe they were rusty there as well?

    Not a brand I will miss or mourn.

  2. I read the whole story the other day and the headline was misleading because Volvo is going to stop making all petro fuel cars and in the future they will be either hybrid or all electric. Right now the all electric is just a nice golf cart and I find the performance claims of 200 miles plus with rapid acceleration to be a bit suspect when transferred to real driving conditions. Add air conditioning here in Texas in the summer and heating in Minnesota in the winter and see what happens. I read about Tesla and their plans while they lose investor’s money and I wonder when the bubble will burst.

    I am thinking that at some point someone will come up with the equivalent of the computer chip with automobile electrical systems with some sort of super cell battery and/or electric motor but that might be way off in the future. Until then physics is a bitch, storing energy in a convenient form of refined oil products and then converting it to power to move stuff down the road was perfected over 130 years ago and since then it has been refined and polished with gasoline and diesel engines but nothing at this time comes close to the practical use and performance or our petroleum product transportation.

    Oh, one other thing that makes some folks grind their gizzards is that every time we are going to run out of oil we seem to discover a giant crap pile more of it and the price of gasoline goes down further. In the 1950’s we were kind of promised we would have out atom powered personal bubble aircraft and wear some sort of lycra/metallic jump suit and go to the moon for vacation and, never mind….

  3. Owned and driven a number of them over the years (including the aforementioned 240 wagons), and my wife’s current car is an XC70 T6 we bought new around 8 years ago. 300 hp, a bit more in torque. Ridiculously fast for a big station wagon, quiet, comfy, and good build quality. No complaints, really. We bought it not because it’s anything that we found particularly inspiring or compelling, but because it was the only widely sold full-sized AWD station wagon on the market that wasn’t a Dodge.

    And there’s no chance of buying an electric car until there are battery hot swap stations on every corner. Electric motorcycle, maybe, though.

  4. I am convinced that one of the design criteria for the venerable Volvo wagon was that it be able to mount a gun turret, in the event of a Soviet invasion. The damn things were tanks!

    They also STEERED like tanks.

  5. When I was a lad I inherited a ’80 240DL wagon. Steered like a tank and accelerated like one, but as I found out most importantly was built like one too. Nothing is as stupid as a 16 year old boy: I put that car into a tree at 45 mph one rainy night. The tree bent the driver door and frame almost to the center console but aside from a bruised leg I was unscathed. That car was technically totalled of course, but it still ran enough to drive it 1/2 mile to the yard the next morning. If I can find one I’ll buy my teenage son the same car in a few more years.

  6. Perhaps they don’t realize than in America, a large number of these cars will be powered by coal.

  7. I’ve gotten into arguments with people over electric cars, and how the pollution has simply been moved down the line, but somehow, I’m unable to get them to understand that the electric car isn’t running on Unicorn farts. It needs electricity to charge it, and electricity has to be generated somewhere. I think this coal fueled buggy perfectly illustrates the issue.

    When I read that Volvo was going to cut gas, and only produce electric cars, I assumed it was virtue signaling by their company, and just like Tesla, would only be successful with massive government subsidies.

  8. I recall some years back Top Gear looked at the first gen Prius and hated it. Partly because when there was some (but not all) highway driving involved Jeremy was getting 40 something miles to the gallon, but for the same driving with a VW diesel (a Lupo?) he was getting over 70 mpg. So if you didn’t want to club baby seals, you were better off with the VW than virtue signalling with the Prius.

  9. I’ve never been a fan, since I worked in a foreign auto parts store and had people with Volvo Penta making engines trying to buy parts (and then returning them because Pentas were just slightly different); the marine engine parts cost a _lot_ more than the equivalent car parts.

    But they made this one car (actually a pair); my neighbor had one in hunter green with a tan interior, and it was beautiful, sleek, enjoyable, reliable (for a ’60s dual carb car), and so totally unlike Volvo’s ugly wart cars or the boxes: P1800. Coupe or 3-door Estate.

    Sorry, thats the closest I could get to making the google image search come up. But its worth the look.

    I would still like one of those

  10. The early Volvos that somewhat resembled a 1941 Ford were great. PV 544?

    The P1800 had an attractive body style, but it certainly needed at least another 100 horsepower. Good candidate for an engine swap.

    A moment of hilarity on an Interstate one day was being passed by a Volvo station wagon with an ego plate: “URPNXTC”. Anybody who was ecstatic over a Volvo wagon was not somebody I wanted to meet. 😀

    1. Back in the 60’s, when Ford and Volvo were contemplating a merger, the idea of putting a Ford 289 Ford V8 into the P1800 came up. The suits at Volvo were not happy.

  11. First, this message comes from the land of Oz, where I live 250 miles from any large cities.
    Family (children and cots and stuff ) made the Volvo a 240 a reasonable choice. After 250,000 kms, it was traded a on an S70. Good size; OK engine; 180,000 kms. Volvo stopped making the S70, so now have a S60. Nice engineering but a bit small. 125,000 kms, so looked at the V60. Salesman proudly told me that Volvo was doing away with ‘large’ engines so as to save the Planet. I told him that when I am on the highway, and really want to overtake a B Double (prime mover + 2 trailers) I want a big engine with much grunt on tap and I don’t care a damn about the Planet at that moment. Impasse. No more Volvos for me. They might be fine for Europe and China, but not here.

    1. The swampies that want to save the earf typically live in big cities, and carry a crushing weight of guilt that they really should get out the pushbike for the commute a lot more.
      They just cannot grok that other people actually live long distances away from other things, and if they do, then it is your bloody fault, and you really should be punished for not living in a high density, mixed used urban environment.

  12. 1) Volvo isn’t dropping gasoline engines. It is shifting to hybrids, which run on gasoline with an occasional boost from electricity. Hybrids have advantages in mileage, and can run electric-only for short distances, but they still use gas.

    2) This is happening only because of government requirements. (And not even useful requirements. If one wants less gasoline used, tax gasoline. All this crap about “CAFE” and such is trying to make it happen without any visible costs.

    3) Back in the 1970s, I saw a dealer ad for Volvos. They laid a pad over one Volvo’s roof, and set another Volvo on it crossways, repeating until five Volvos were stacked on the first one – which was undamaged. Those suckers were strong.

    4) There can be environmental advantages to shifting the fuel-burning upstream. The quasi-explosive combustion in an engine cylinder results in nasty leftovers: partially burned fuel, nitrous oxides, and carbon monoxide. Expensive and elaborate engineering is required to clean up this stuff before it goes out the exhaust, and even then some gets through. Continuous combustion in a power station burns cleaner. Also, the power station could be hydro or nuclear, in which case nothing is burned.

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