The Volvo XC90 is on track to become the brand’s second fully electric vehicle behind the XC40 Recharge and this week the company announced that it will build the next generation XC90 at its only US plant, in Ridgeville, South Carolina.
Fully Electric, Built In South Carolina
Volvo broke ground on the Ridgeville plant in 2015 and will be expanding the new facility for the next generation XC90. The $600 million expansion will see a second automotive line installed at the factory, increasing the capacity to a total of 150,000 vehicles per year. Volvo has produced the S60 for North American customers at the new plant since mid-2018, but there are no public plans as of yet to electrify that little guy.
Volvo is expected to introduce the new XC90 as a combustion vehicle and a fully electric vehicle and Volvo has not shed any light on how much of the factory’s XC90 production capacity is dedicated to the fully electric variant. We do know the vehicle will be built on the second generation of Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture, dubbed SPA2.
Volvo expects the new end-to-end XC90 production systems to produce 1,000 new jobs, though we don’t know how many of these will come from the electrified versions or the supporting battery assembly plant.
Volvo Battery Pack Assembly Plant
In addition to the new production line for the next generation XC90, the project included the establishment of the Volvo Car University at the end of 2019 and a new battery production line for the electric vehicles produced at the facility.
According to a Volvo spokesperson, the new battery pack assembly plant will assemble battery cells into packs ready for marriage with a vehicle chassis. Doing this locally is not as streamlined as going from raw materials to cells to modules and packs, but it does help optimize freight, lead times, and emissions associated with building packs offsite for transport to a vehicle factory.
The new plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2021 to support the start of XC90 production in 2022. In addition to pack assembly, Volvo will test the battery packs to ensure they live up to strict quality and performance standards.
At Volvo’s introduction of the XC40 Recharge in Los Angeles last October, they made it clear they see electric vehicles as the future of the automotive industry. The presentation wove the four big themes of future vehicles together, seamlessly integrating Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric vehicle technologies into Volvo’s branding and ethos.
Responsibility is at the core of the Volvo brand. The vehicle is responsible to keep its occupants safe. The company builds vehicles that make responsible use of the world’s resources. “A Volvo built in 2025 will leave a carbon footprint that is 40 percent lower than a car that we build today,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said at Volvo’s October XC40 Recharge event. “We made safety part of the brand. We should do the same with sustainability.”
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