Among legacy automakers embarking upon transforming their businesses to electrified vehicles, Volvo Cars (Volvo) is one of the most progressive. The company first announced its plans to electrify its vehicles in 2017, and since then, has steadfastly executed on ambitious goals.
Today, the automaker offers a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) option for nearly every one of its North American models and is on the cusp of delivering two new electric vehicle (EV) models to its U.S. customers. Additionally, it recently introduced the Volvo Concept Recharge, a concept vehicle that crystallizes its approach to its next-generation EVs. The company has also set firm goals of 2030 to eliminate internal combustion engines from its cars and SUVs and 2040 to become fully carbon neutral across all its operations.
Once viewed as a risky gamble, Volvo's early pivot toward electrification and sustainability is now paying dividends as the company reports record half-year sales results for 2021. Compared to the same period in 2020, global sales are up 41 percent. However, the coronavirus pandemic dented sales last year, so a rise of this magnitude is not surprising. A more telling figure is the 12-percent increase over the first half of 2019.
Furthermore, the automaker's lineup of Recharge PHEVs and EVs accounts for 25 percent of all sales. Volvo claims this is the highest percentage of electrified sales as a proportion of total sales among all traditional car companies. It is also worth noting that Volvo tallied its record sales during a semiconductor microchip shortage that has crippled parts of the global automotive industry throughout 2021.
Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars, emphasized this fact in a statement: "The company continued to grow strongly despite the industry-wide semiconductor shortage, but more importantly, we demonstrated that we are a leader of the ongoing transformation in the automotive industry."
Volvo is also trying to transform automotive retailing, and it faces headwinds in the U.S. market. Its Care by Volvo subscription program has come under fire in the past, and now the company's plan to sell its EVs online is raising retailers' hackles. Nevertheless, Volvo is pressing on, determined to lead instead of follow.
Strong sales are good news for another reason, too. The Volvo Cars board of directors is evaluating a possible initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq Stockholm.