Volvo Cars chief executive Hakan Samuelsson will say the internal combustion engine is ‘a technology of the past’
Volvo Cars chief executive Hakan Samuelsson will say the internal combustion engine is ‘a technology of the past’ © Bloomberg

The chief executive of Volvo Cars will say that a ban on sales of petrol cars would be a better way to push groups to go electric than offering subsidies for battery vehicles.

Hakan Samuelsson will tell the FT Future of the Car Summit on Wednesday that the internal combustion engine is “a technology of the past”, and welcome the UK’s pledge to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

“No one can build a successful and profitable business by relying on incentives,” he will tell the virtual conference.

“While temporary incentives can help encourage industry to develop in the right way, it could be more efficient for governments to set a clear agenda towards an electric future.”

Other speakers over the three-day event include Aston Martin’s new chairman and owner Lawrence Stroll, in his first conference appearance since buying the luxury brand, and Nissan’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta.

Bentley chief executive Adrian Hallmark, Volkswagen senior executive Alexander Hitzinger and senior Honda executive Ian Howells are among speakers from established carmakers, while start-up founders including Mate Rimac from Rimac and Peter Rawlinson from Lucid Motors will also be appearing.

It also features senior executives from the driverless car world including Waymo chief executive John Krafcik and Zoox boss Aicha Evans.

The digital summit comes as carmakers face a faster-than-expected push towards electric vehicles, with other countries expected to bring in phase-out dates for the sale of new traditionally powered vehicles.

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Reception of the UK’s phase-out of new petrol and diesel sales has been muted across the industry, with many carmakers warning that the targets are too ambitious without a widespread public adoption of the technology.

Allowing the sale of some hybrid cars until 2035 will ease the burden for some carmakers such as Toyota, which are heavily reliant on hybrid models to lower their emissions.

Regulation is already driving down emissions, with most carmakers in the EU bringing out battery models to meet tighter CO2 rules that came into force this year and 2021. A lower goal by 2030 is expected to lead to a large increase in electric vehicle sales across Europe.

“Europe has a big opportunity to lead the transition to sustainable mobility, and governments and companies should work together to make it happen,” Mr Samuelsson will add.

Volvo expects that 50 per cent of its sales will be fully electric by 2025, with the rest using its plug-in hybrid technology, which allows a car to run a significant distance on battery power only.

The company has one pure electric model — the XC40 Recharge — on sale and about a quarter of its European sales are hybrid, making it the largest seller of plug-in hybrids in Europe.

“We are convinced that the premium car segment will become fully electric over time, and our ambition is to be a leader in that segment,” Mr Samuelsson will say.

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