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Electric

Every car company is striving toward a more environmental car with green energy. Now Volvo has decided how to do so, they plan to offer a plug-in version of all cars in its vehicle line up, build smaller vehicles, and offer a pure electric vehicle by 2019.

Key to the plan will be its upcoming line of 40-series vehicles built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which has been designed from the start with electrification in mind. This new architecture should make it easier for the brand to develop a range of body styles that meet consumer needs, from compact wagons, hatchbacks or crossovers, depending on its market, and with a variety of powertrains. The new architecture should enable Volvo to accommodate conventional engines, electric motors or plug-in hybrids, and likely without compromising interior or cargo space.

Volvo currently offers a gasoline plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 SUV in the U.S., and a plug-in XC60 variant should show up in the near future. The manufacturer currently sells a plug-in diesel hybrid version of its V60 wagon in the EU, which for obvious reasons will not make it to the US shores.

Volvo has recently been caught up in the diesel emissions row, after several of its diesel-powered vehicles were found to produce more emissions than previously reported. The electrification strategy seems to mark a shifting of the winds towards batteries and away from the once favored diesel engines.

“We have come to a point where the cost versus benefit calculation for electrification is now almost positive,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development in a news statement. “Battery technology has improved, costs are going down, and public acceptance of electrification is no longer a question.”

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Which path is going to lead the final result of a fully green vehicle the one Toyota is taking or Nissans? Which path will be quicker and have a better result?

Within the span of a month, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Corp. have doubled down on starkly divergent strategies for hybrid and electric vehicles.

While other global automakers hedge their bets on alternative powertrain technologies, Nissan and Toyota are placing risky wagers that each knows exactly which powertrain will dominate among next-generation green vehicles.

Nissan aims to be the global leader in EVs. Toyota wants to expand its lead as the world’s top maker of gasoline-electric hybrids.

On June 9, Nissan released the second of four promised EVs, its e-NV200 battery-powered van.

Just weeks earlier, Toyota pulled the plug on its own EV program by ending a two-year deal to build electric Toyota RAV4 crossovers with Tesla Motors Inc. When the last RAV-4 rolls off the line later this year, the world’s largest automaker will no longer be producing electric cars.

No other major automakers are as zealous about their chosen path.

Risky business

“When it comes to zero emissions, we’re absolutely religious,” Andy Palmer, Nissan’s chief planning officer, said at the launch of the e-NV200, Nissan’s second EV after the Leaf. “We’ll be the absolute, No. 1 leader in zero emissions. No doubt. That’s our positioning.”

Publicly, both companies say they see a need for a range of alternative powertrains to meet different driving conditions. But their product plans clearly show where each is plowing the big bucks: Nissan into EVs, while Toyota shuns them for hybrids.

Each gambit is risky. EVs are still hobbled by high costs and range limitations. Hybrids, also still pricey, face tougher competition from improved internal-combustion engines.

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