Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson (copy)

Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Car Group, says the automaker future is in electric vehicles. File/Provided/Volvo Cars

The Volvo sedans that will roll off the automaker's South Carolina assembly line this year will be the company's first vehicle to hit the market without a diesel engine option.

The decision, which CEO Hakan Samuelsson announced Wednesday, was not entirely unexpected. Last summer, Volvo said all models it introduces starting in 2019 will be powered by hybrid engines or batteries as part of its "electrification strategy."

Samuelsson said the U.S.-built S60 "represents the next step in that commitment.”

“Our future is electric and we will no longer develop a new generation of diesel engines,” he said in a prepared statement. “We will phase out cars with only an internal combustion engine, with petrol hybrid versions as a transitional option as we move towards full electrification."

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Volvo S60 camouflaged

Volvo's redesigned S60 sedan was camouflaged when it was taken to Lofoten, Norway, for winter testing in February. The car will be made exclusively at Volvo's new $1.2 billion campus in Berkeley County. File/Provided/Volvo Cars

Other carmakers are ditching diesel as well. Nissan and Toyota have announced this year that they will phase out the engines on their European passenger cars.

Volvo Cars will make the updated S60 exclusively at a $1.2 billion manufacturing plant it is building off Interstate 26 in Berkeley County, between Summerville and Ridgeville. The decision to take diesel engines off the menu for that model mainly affects vehicles that will be exported overseas from South Carolina.

Volvo will unveil the retooled S60 in June, with production starting in the fall. Its hiring plans call for up to 4,000 workers at the Berkeley County campus. 

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The automaker describes the S60 as "a premium mid-size sports sedan." The first run of South Carolina-made cars will be available with four-cylinder gasoline engines and in two plug-in hybrid-powered versions.

Volvo announced in September that it will add the XC90 SUV to its Lowcountry lineup starting in 2021.

The company's South Carolina plant will be capable of churning out up to 150,000 cars each year. About half will be shipped overseas through the Port of Charleston.

Volvo is headquartered in Sweden and owned by China’s Geely Holding Group. Its South Carolina investment is part of an effort to regain market share in the United States.

The carmaker predicted at the Beijing Auto Show last month that electric vehicles will account for half of its global sales by 2025. Some analyst consider that to be an ambitious target. 

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott