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The head of Volvo believes that by the next decade hybrid drivetrains will supplant diesel engines throughout much of the world, including Europe.

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson, recently spoke to Car and Driver, and other American publications, about the company’s three-cylinder plug-in-hybrid T5 drivetrain that will be offered for the first time in the next-generation 40-Series vehicles.

The CEO lavished praise on the yet-to-be-released drivetrain, saying that “it offers much lower CO2 levels, but more or less the same performance in both horsepower and torque [as a turbo-diesel]”.

Right now, plug-in hybrids are at a price disadvantage, either for the consumer or the car maker. Samuelsson believes that within the next few years there will be a “crossover” point, with diesels becoming more expensive and plug-in hybrids becoming the more economical option.

Volvo Concept 40.1 front seven-eights
Above: Volvo Concept 40.1.

Part of this is down to ever-tightening emissions standards, which might require car makers to install even more expensive exhaust treatment systems in diesel-powered cars.

Despite this, Samuelsson stopped short of saying that the company would stop making diesel powertrains.

“I think that it’s very realistic that the percentage [of diesel engines] will go down,” Samuelsson said. “If it will go down to zero, I think we don’t need to speculate. Let the future decide, let customers decide. We are flexible enough that we can make petrol and diesels on the same line, basically.”

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