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

2016-volvo-xc90-t6-suv-34

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.”