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Volvo Seriously Underestimated Demand For Plug-In Hybrids

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Volvo thinks plug-in hybrids will make up 20-25 percent of its worldwide sales by the end of 2019.

Volvo is gaining a lot of recognition for its innovative safety technology as part of a plan to make all its new models death-proof by 2020, but the Swedish automaker also has big plans for electrification.

Volvo expects sales of its plug-in hybrid models to rapidly increase by the end of 2019, as company CEO Hakan Samuelsson admits, according to Automotive News, that tey underestimated demand for its electrified models. "By the end of the year we should be up to 20 to 25 percent," he said. Currently, plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90 and XC60 SUVs, S60 and S90 sedans, and V90 and V60 wagons account for around 10-15 percent of Volvo's global sales, but Samuelsson expects this to increase up to 20 to 25 percent by the end of 2019.

Volvo simply didn't have enough batteries, electric motors and other key components needed to make its plug-in hybrids in the past, according to the CEO. "We are not happy because we could sell more [plug-in hybrids]," he said. "We underestimated the demand."

To meet this growing demand, Samuelsson said Volvo is currently "ramping up all the components" it needs to produce its plug-in hybrids, as well as its recently added family of mild hybrid powertrains. "We are tripling the capacity from what we had about a year ago to where we will be at the end of this year," he said.

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Volvo will introduce a range of mild hybrids this year, starting with diesel and gasoline versions on the XC90 and XC60. Mild hybrids, which will wear Volvo's new B badge, will also be equipped with Volvo's brake-­by-­wire energy recovery system.

Despite the supply issues, Volvo sold 26,800 plug-in hybrids in Europe last year, up from 16,000 in 2017. By 2021, Volvo expects a quarter of all vehicles it produces worldwide will be plug-in hybrids. Volvo's Polestar brand is also focusing on electrified vehicles, as the Polestar 1 is a plug-in hybrid coupe whereas the Polestar 2 is the brand's first fully electric car that will compete with the Tesla Model 3. Volvo's first fully electric model, on the other hand, will be based on the XC40 and go on sale soon after the Polestar 2.