Debuting at the end of 2017, Volvo’s XC40 SUV became an instant hit with customers. Behind the larger XC60, it has transformed into the Swedish automaker’s second best-selling model globally. Volvo has picked this popular model to become its first pure electric vehicle, which will be available for sale in 2020, hopefully at the beginning of the year. Volvo has announced the car will debut to the public on October 17, 2019.
By John Coulter, CURRENT EV CMO
Introducing the XC40 SUV EV is a significant development for Volvo and Chinese parent company Geely, which has indicated it wants 50% of its worldwide sales to be electric vehicles by 2025. Volvo has previously announced that from 2019 forward, all its new models will be either electrics or hybrids. This forward-looking decision makes Volvo the first major auto manufacturer to discontinue production of gas-only vehicles. It also wants to be selling a million cars a year by 2025. Based on sales of 700,000 vehicles in 2019, and projected sales of 800,000 Volvos in 2020, this seems totally doable. Volvo Cars is currently on track to register a fifth consecutive year of global sales growth.
In Australia, Volvo sales increased by more than 25% after the first four months of 2018. The car manufacturer is now investing about 5% of its annual revenue – a little more than $1 billion a year – on electric and driverless cars.
Volvo has said it plans to release 3 electric vehicles by 2021. Hybrids and EVs are still a fraction of new car sales but premium-market models have increasingly gained momentum to cause auto industry analysists to believe mass adoption of EVs will increase as battery ranges increase and MSRPs drop. The company maintains that, “the characteristics of electrified vehicles – effortless performance and ultra-quiet refinement – are perfectly suited to Volvo’s reputation for creating luxury passenger cars and SUVs.”
According to Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson, the automaker’s shift to electric is dramatically ramping up: “We are well underway with models such as the [full-electric] Polestar 2 and the XC40. We firmly believe there will be a battery-electric car market that is big enough for us. Until then what we have is a very good solution, the TwinEngine plug-in hybrid. These cars can be driven roughly 50 percent of the time in full-electric mode. They account for about 10 percent of the sales in the model lines where the technology is available, which is a very high percentage. We have an ambitious ramp up as we will not release any future models that are combustion only. At a minimum they will be mild hybrids.”
Knowing Tesla is considered one of the safest vehicles in the world, Volvo has gone out of its way to make the fully-electric XC40 the safest Volvo ever built. Its battery pack will be housed in a safety cage of extended aluminum, with the goal to insure there are no voltage leaks in the event of a collision. The car has also received reinforcements on both its front and rear ends.
The company has indicated the XC40 will operate with what Volvo calls Advanced Driver Assistance Systems which will be similar to the autopilot systems being put into the latest Teslas. Volvo’s ADAS will be an active system relying on radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors – the kind which will be used in future self-driving cars. The company has hinted that ADAS is the foundation for the autonomous cars it is currently designing for the future.
While the XC40 electric’s MSRP has been reported to be as low as $35,000-$40,000, Volvo CEO Samuelsson implies it may be closer to $50,000. The Swedish automaker has remained mum on the XC40 EV’s range, saying it will announce the crossover’s specific abilities at the car’s debut on October 17, 2019.