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Former Volvo CEO: Electric cars won’t be mainstream

Fear is the key factor which will prevent electric cars from becoming dominant in the automotive industry in the future, according to a former boss of Volvo.

In a connected age, the thought of your battery running out of power is what concerns people the most.

Stefan Jacoby, former Volvo CEOStefen Jacoby, who was the carmaker’s chief executive until recently, said: “If the battery goes down on their cell phone people feel really bad. If it's your car in the middle of a traffic jam you will feel even worse."

It's that emotional connection which is a major stumbling block for electric vehicles, said Jacoby. That, and the price.

These issues are being addressed but Jacoby added: "I don't believe EVs will have a major role in the future. They will have some sort of role, for example, in cities as taxis or urban delivery vehicles, but for a normal household, no. Over the next 10-15 years we will see various hybrid solutions, mated to the conventional internal combustion engine playing the dominant role."

Volvo has never committed to producing battery electric cars, producing just a small test fleet of C30 Electric cars in 2011, introduced under Jacoby’s stewardship. To avoid the ‘range-anxiety’ stumbling block, the carmaker instead launched the world’s first diesel-electric plug-in hybrid last year-the V60 PHEV car-with a range of up to 560 miles.

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid 2013 silver

As technology moves on, the internet will play an increasing role in the car buying process - but there is still a place for the traditional dealer.

Speaking at a media lunch organised by the news agency, headlineauto, Jacoby said: "Although they will do all their research online, and in many cases be better informed than salesmen, customers still want to drive the car at some point before making a commitment."

Dealers will still have to move with the times, however, and re-think their business model, Jacoby added.

Jacoby also previously headed up Volkswagen's operations in Asia and North America and was CEO of Mitsubishi Europe. He has a unique insight into the global automotive business.

He said: "I'm looking at the industry from the outside for the first time in 27 years. One thing that has changed from when I started out is that this is no longer a job for life or one where you are necessarily in the same place all the time.

"When I started out in 1995 you only competed with your fellow Germans. Now you have to compete with people from China, India and all over the world. The pace of change has also picked up - just look at communication: It took radio 38 years to reach an audience of 50m people, television took 13 years, the internet four years and twitter just nine months.

"With model development and lifecycle times of 10 years the motor industry is starting to lag behind. It has got to learn to move more quickly."

Source: Headlineauto.co.uk

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Electric cars, Volvo

2 comments

SamuelH

He obviously has not considered Tesla Motors and their vision. People will buy electric cars if they are good.
Little 100 miles electric commuters don't really cut it for most people even if it meets their needs.
For electric cars to be successful, they have to compete on features, performance, utility, and price in their category. The only electric car that is doing is the Tesla Model S which is why even at $75,000 each it was January's best selling electric car. Tesla will deliver 20,000 Model S's or more this year.

Ralph

Setting stuck in traffic jam with empty battery... but a fuel tank cant ever get empty?
That's not a good argument!
Yea, electric cars have low range today, but who needs to travel more than 100 miles every day? The few times a year you need a longer range there ist an old invention called "train". Even renting a gasoline car is a cheaper option than putting a huge battery into a car.
Than how would you charge such a huge battery? Filling about 80kWh (300 miles) within half an hour would take 160kW of power. The power grid couldn't handle that.

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