It wasn’t really a secret, but now it’s official. The Volvo XC40 SUV will be the company’s first all-electric car, signaling a transition to more electric cars in the near future. According to Autocar, Volvo design chief Thomas Ingenlath told the press on June 20 during the reveal of his company’s new S60 sedan, “It’s not a secret any more that the first full electric Volvo is on its way with the XC40 coming. It will arrive very soon after the Polestar 2. That is the first to come that’s not exotic. We’ll start with XC40 and then on it will come step after step into our model range. The next car will be the next generation XC90.”
It should be noted that the S60 will be manufactured exclusively in Volvo’s first US factory in Charleston, South Carolina. The next generation XC90 will also be manufactured there beginning in 2021. “That will be the master plan of how electrification will come to the Volvo product range,” Ingenlath said. “We will not establish products beside our hybrids, we will introduce electrification as a powertrain variant within the existing portfolio. You could say that is different to a lot of the mass-production brands. But I have a hard time to understand how their plan will work in the long run.
“Electrification is the future of the automotive industry, so how do you handle that as soon as you come to the majority of electric cars? How do you handle it in your portfolio? I think it’s much more natural to say it’s a powertrain variant that over time will take up the majority of the sold vehicles.” His remarks are clearly aimed at Volkswagen, which will sell its electric cars under the I.D. brand, and Mercedes Benz, which has established a new EQ brand for its electric models. BMW started out by creating its “i” division for the i3 and i8, but has now changed course and brands its electrified cars with labels that require the entire trunk lid to spell out in full.
Volvo says every car in its product lineup will be fitted with an electric motor from 2019 forward. In many cases, that could mean a hybrid or plug-in hybrid variant being sold alongside all-electric models. For instance, the XC40 will be available as a plug-in hybrid as well as a battery electric car. The XC40 chassis was designed specifically to accept a variety of powertrains. The XC40 will be manufactured in China for markets around the world.
Volvo has incorporated Polestar, which began as an independent tuning firm, into its corporate structure and will use it to develop future EVs. It expects 50% of its cars to be fully electric by 2025. “We definitely don’t want to bring something that we’ve so successfully just launched like an XC40 to an end just because combustion engines will disappear,” he said. “To look at new formats, new body styles and non-traditional elements, we founded Polestar to take care of that end of the scope. We developed that strategy: full electrification of the Volvo range, making it a natural part of the offer, and at the same time developing new, unconventional elements in the Polestar brand.”
Interesting times ahead for the Chinese-owned Swedish brand, which like many other manufacturers is trying to find its way forward as the electric car revolution evolves.