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RIP Internal Combustion Gasoline Engine: Volvo Goes Electric


RIP Internal Combustion Gasoline Engine: Volvo Goes Electric

Juan Cole

The Swedish auto manufacturer Volvo, owned by the Chinese automotive corporation Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd, has abruptly decided to produce only electric, plug-in hybrid and “mild hybrid” vehicles by 2019, only two years from now, AP reports.


Once again, we see this assumption of the private automobile as the only imaginable and conceivable form of day to day transportation. I bet Prof. Cole, up in that “motor state” has never set foot on a bus in his life.


Good progress. There are still some obstacles to overcome for widespread use. Many more recharging stations are needed, recharging is a particularly big problem for people who live in apartment houses. faster recharging is needed without having to pay a lot more, and electric cars cost thousands more than many models of similar gasoline powered cars.


Too little, too late.

Cars - electric included - are among the primary tools with which humans are de-constructing the ecology.

We need a vast reset of the economy, to function without ecological devastation. Diddling around the edges is grossly insufficient.


Why are you ranting? Show some intellectual restraint! Never been on a bus? Really? From this statement of yours, it must be assumed that you never set foot in automobiles otherwise you would be a profound hypocrite and… simply running off at the mouth!

This is great news from Volvo and rightly celebrated by all who want a better environment. Most people understand that the convenience of motor vehicles allows us a modern world. The problem is fossil fuels which are causing catastrophic climate change. If we can remove the fossil fuels from vehicles most people would call that a big success in the real world.

Yes we could attempt to make everything mass transit or walk. Do you expect that to happen anytime soon considering that we do not have the time to completely redo our transportation system. Removing fossil fuels from cars and trucks allows for an easy change over with minimal disruption in people’s lives. That is real world, of course!

A real world big win for us all. A major car maker took step one. Now the others will follow suit. This is what success for those who fight global warming have been waiting for looks like! It is very exciting.

Please never set foot in a fossil fuel vehicle, you wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite!


Another pie in the sky someday we should and could if only we would etc!

Well we won’t. It is ridiculous to even contemplate such a massive reset of the economy in the short period of time still left before climate chaos strikes!

This is most certainly NOT too little too late either! It is in fact just in time and most welcome. It offers concrete change for the better and soon. Not some fantasy future that will not happen nor could any nation afford to attempt it. Humanity likes getting around in private. Humanity has a complete infrastructure that is so vast that it brings with it an almost insurmountable inertia and difficulty to change!

However if you leave the infrastructure but change the fuel, suddenly success is possible! A world without gasoline or diesel fuel using vehicles is a cooler and saner world. Billions of tons of carbon will be removed from the climate change yearly equation!

I am so grateful to Volvo for leading where all must follow eventually. Only the fossil fuels use changes, everything else pretty much stays the same! That means it can actually happen - that it can work.

Bravo Volvo! And thanks for not waiting while yet the world still stands a chance!


Cars have also been a very effective tool in destroying human social ecologies i.e. neighborhood community, solidarity and what I call “sidewalk-level economics” - replacing it with an atomized forms of human existence as humans spend all their time out in the community sealed in metal and glass boxes. It can hardly be called a “society” at all.

This was revealed to me like an epiphany when, after a life in suburbia, hardly understanding that any other form of life was possible, I moved to an old fashioned walking-scale ethnic urban neighborhood where half of my neighbors did not own a car at all. For the first time in my life, freed from the rubber-tired isolation chamber, the neighborhood and people and city around me felt “real”.

It is no accident that the more car-dependent a community is, the more right wing and capitalist-fundamentalist it is.


What “re doing” is needed? Bus routes can be added in any number anywhere and everywhere in a city in a day. And yes, battery-electric buses with more range than a Tesla are available and in production. That is, they could do this if transit systems weren’t being so savagely defunded to make way for more cars which are now being parked on the sidewalks in the gentrifying neighborhoods - whose whole appeal to the yuppies to begin with was that they were never designed for car-ownership by every household.

An now, in my city, we have a mayor who thinks that self-driving uber cars can replace public transit.


Juan Cole lives in the first US city to test these on an actual bus route:


No, the “pie in the sky” is very obviously that “Electric cars will save us! Driverless cars will save us! Fourth-generation batteries will save us!” That is your pie in the sky.

While you whine about the “ridiculous” impossibility of humans facing the facts, we continue to ACCELERATE the cascading dis-integration of the ecology. That’s no fantasy future, that’s a real horror.


My point is not that electric vehicles will solve every problem. However they will do a large part towards rectifying climate change. If we keep the fossil fuel economy we now have we are not only doomed but doomed real fast too. It is not possible to undo so widespread and ubiquitous a transportation system as we now have in the short period of time left to us to avoid catastrophe!

However, if we leave everything the same (temporarily), we leave the roads, the bridges and tunnels, the gas stations that can be switched to recharging stations, the two car garages and the yuppies a’gentrifying… and only change the most destructive element which is fossil fuel use then everything becomes possible. The gas station owner who periodically needs to replace worn out pumps with new ones will simply replace them with recharger ‘pumps’ instead. Practically no pain but all gain! Same thing for the thousands of car dealership jobs and mechanics and advertising - the whole thing top to bottom gets changed from an industry destroying the habitable planet into an industry which bears a comparatively small footprint in terms of pollution and carbon production.

At that point when the world environment stabilizes then new ideas of transportation will flower as the pressure will be off transportation leaving room for innovation. Even now changes are happening fast. Only a short time ago restaurant deliveries were done on gasoline powered scooters but now (at least in my big city) virtually all of them are being done by electric scooters. Where once a motor scooter might cost several thousand an electric scooter or electric bike might cost a tenth of that much. Practically overnight, the delivery of meals became almost 100% electric scooters throughout the city.

Nothing changed except the fuel but that was the one thing that needed to be changed!


You offer no real world solutions but only a rant! It is not possible to redo our transportation system like you envision. You eat food transported but trucks and ships, you go to work either in a car or work alongside many coworkers who drove their cars allowing them to live further away and then commute. Are you saying that you never get into a car? Even if true (though incredibly unlikely) you still use the goods and services dependent on fossil fuel vehicles.

There will always be roads and streets but if we could remove the astounding production of carbon added to the atmosphere each year through fossil fuels…

…then there will always be forests and nature too!

I remind you that you offered no solution but only a rant. You complain about a major positive step which we all desperately need (to get off fossil fuels) but that is all you did. What is your solution … a real world solution that is actually attainable.



Indeed, i have never driven a car. i go everywhere by bicycle. i’m 58 years old.

People tell themselves that we MUST continue with this horrific consumerist capitalist system that is LITERALLY dis-integrating the ecology. It is “ridiculous” to state that we must face the obvious ecological truth.

One simple fact is that the vast majority of automobile trips are unnecessary, and could be easily done without. The fact that it is “ridiculous” to even consider changing human economic and social behaviors, will be written on our species’ tombstone, as civilization collapses in the accelerating mass extinction that is underway.

Electric cars will not “rectify” climate change. You offer no real solutions. You offer a pipe-dream of ongoing endless “consumption,” with no need to mobilize social change. Just wait, and keep on drivin’ baby, because corporate profiteers will save us!

Happy summer to you.


You repeat your original rant. Where is your solution? It seems yet again you do not offer one. So you ride a bike which is admirable but does that absolve you from the sin of motor vehicles? You eat food transported in trucks and ships and the same goes for manufactured goods like the bike you ride. Was it made locally or was it transported by truck to the store where you bought it. Was it made in a factory powered by a coal burning plant? You get my point. All of the world’s way of life is approaching emergency status.

Electric vehicles instead of fossil fuel vehicles is a single stage change which is relatively easy and painless to do because very little but the choice of fuel will actually change. This makes a widescale change from gasoline to electric possible and also quick.

The world needs this now. The environment and the biosphere needs this change to happen as soon as possible. You must know that that is true!


Notice how they are a privatized non-solution. And don’t expect such things in the neighborhoods where people really need public transit.


Well, a somewhat less damaging consumer product is probably a good thing, all in all. But the “RIP” business is off base in a way that points out the shortcomings of a lot of similar thought.

There is sort of a paired coupling of bad assumption to deal with here–that we ride the grand empire of nuclear and hydrocarbon energy and its extensive military and social trappings rather than the other way around, that we can can make great sacrifices to support it, and that we must make great sacrifices to reject it. None of this is true.

It is quite possible to lose what we have in tragedy–in fire and firepower, in poisons and radiation, squabbling over our imaginary largesse while the genuine richness of soil and lifestuff slips or blows away into the oceans.

However, all of that is consequent on human behaviors that have changed and changed again, not on intrinsic problems of the species, as tempting as other conclusions may be. But no, it is not our intrinsic need for food, water, air, shelter, respect, and discourse that costs us: it is the spending of resources to maintain the status of one and another group of individuals against the claims of another. Western society bans a garden in the yard and decries the slaughter of an animal, then flies beef and produce from Argentina to the United States.

We have learned, apparently, that we must track the carbon footprint of manufacture as well as that of the car’s direct use of electricity. We have not learned, collectively, that we must also track the acquisition of the consumer’s $35,000, partly because we remain in the assumption that said consumer will be paying $35,000 for something, so that any and all related problems will wash.


It’s probably good that people enmeshed in the struggles relevant to drivers enmeshed in the fast-dollar economy that creates fast cars can purchase a car that uses electricity that will mostly be created by burnt hydrocarbons rather than a car that simply burns the hydrocarbons in its engines. And certainly any way that solar is integrated is apt to be a plus, and let’s look at wind, too.

But lives will have to become meaningful based on what people do in the back yard, down the street, off the edge of town, and on our apartment roofs and balconies. We may keep discourse by directing electricity to move light communication before large masses of mineral. We may keep or order and supply by ordering sorts of supply that can be maintained without huge carbon inputs and without the inputs of the warring clans of the rich.


All buses are privatized to the extent that a corporation manufactures them, Man.

Are you against this test drive of an all-electric public transport solution?
Would you prefer sticking with the LNG buses on that current route?


From the article:

‘All electric cars emit less carbon dioxide, a toxic greenhouse gas, than gasoline and diesel cars. even if they are charged in states that depend heavily on coal and natural gas for electricity production.’

Except that carbon dioxide is not generally considered to be a toxin (as opposed to an asphyxiant), except at very high concentrations. It takes about 25 times normal atmospheric concentration to produce harmful effects in humans.


Good post! Your last sentence is especially relevant, and is one of many factors involved in the Republican near-monopoly in the Southern states, with the suburbs of Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, Tampa, Dallas, etc. being heavily right wing capitalist and/or fundamentalist. These are all very car-dependent cities in which there is some degree of stigma towards using and/or supporting their meager public transit.


Your mayor must be a moron!