A future with only electric cars on our roads?

Volvo is leading the way: from 2019 all the Swedish-Chinese carmaker's new models will use either electric or hybrid technology. Europe's commentators discuss whether electric cars really are the future.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

The start of a revolution

Poland must not ignore the example Volvo is setting, Rzeczpospolita observes:

“This is clearly the start of the biggest mobility revolution since the breakthrough of the combustion engine. … But before electro-mobility goes from being an interesting exception to standard technology many problems - technical, political and infrastructural - must yet be solved. If using electric cars becomes as easy as using ones with combustion engines and at the same time cheaper, the revolution will take place automatically. One thing is for sure - Poland mustn't miss out on this.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Biogas would be a real revolution

Not electricity but biogas is the fuel of the future, Helsingin Sanomat is sure:

“Let's say one day Finland has over a million electric cars: how are we going to produce the electricity they need? There can be no question of electricity generated with fossil fuels. And if we want to produce it with nuclear power, we'll need nuclear power plants. ... Imported electricity is both a security risk and a moral dilemma. ... The advantage of biogas is that no losses occur when it's converted into another form of energy. With local consumption or distribution through gas pipelines there would be no transport losses. The biogas production process is so simple that no moving parts are needed. In Sweden, biogas is already being used as fuel for heavy traffic. ... The real investment path for the future is biogas.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

A true role model

Other car companies should quickly follow Volvo's example, Salzburger Nachrichten demands:

“This is a strong statement [by Volvo]. But we're not hearing anything from the biggest car companies. True, they're feverishly trying to develop product series with clean engines. But there can be no talk of the fossil fuel era coming to an end. On the contrary, rumours are rife that the business with climate killing petrol will continue for a long time yet. This is a dangerous threat. We're running out of time. If we want to preserve the Earth as we know it we must stop burning petrol - completely - by the middle of the century, so by 2050 at the latest.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Electricity must be produced cleanly

Keeping emissions low in the electricity production process is a factor that must be taken into account in the conversion to electric cars, Keskisuomalainen urges:

“Volvo's decision reflects the transformation in the automotive industry and transport. In Europe in particular, the goal is to reduce emissions by using electric forms of transport. … But for the next decade combustion engines will continue to dominate. The number of electric and hybrid cars is growing, but the changeover will take some time. … As the number of electric cars increases, more attention must be paid to how the electricity is produced. Will the electricity be produced using low-emission solar energy or nuclear power or using dirty coal?”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

The state shouldn't get involved

Swedish politicians have welcomed Volvo's decision but they shouldn't get involved in the process, Sydsvenskan demands:

“Green technology has developed very rapidly and it pays off economically - not just for the car industry. … A growing number of companies are investing in climate protection because they can't afford not to. So when it comes to protecting the climate the market has better chances of success than political guidelines for emissions. … Since autumn 2015 the state has supported the installation of 6,000 charging points for electric cars. This isn't necessarily wrong, but it's important to stay open to new technological developments. Perhaps soon, fuel cells won't need to be recharged so frequently, or a different technology will come along. If the market develops in a climate-friendly direction there will be no need for the state to intervene.”