Volvo, the Swedish automaker owned by Geely, intends to sell only electric cars by 2030. To reach that goal, it says it will introduce one new battery-electric model a year between now and then. The EX90 — the electrified twin to the hugely popular XC90 — was unveiled a few weeks ago. In a teaser photo from earlier this year (see above), the company showed the EX90 in silhouette.
Next to it was a smaller car with similar styling cues, which everyone assumed was the new EX30 — an entry level electric SUV that Volvo hopes will help it increase global sales to 1.2 million vehicles a year from around 700,000 a year today. Recently, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan spoke to the press about the company’s plans and referred to the EX30 for the first time in public. “The little one will be a very important car for us,” he said, according to Handelsblatt (paywall).
The EX30 is expected to be available to customers late in 2023. It will be based on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) electric vehicle platform, which also forms the basis of the new Smart #1 introduced last spring. That car is 168 inches (4.27 m) long, 72 inches (1.8 m) wide, and 64.4 inches (1.64 m) high. In comparison, the XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge are both 174.8 inches (4.45 m) long, 75.2 inches (1.9 m) wide, and 65 inches (1.65 m) high.
The Smart #1 has a 66 kWh battery, a single 268 horsepower (200 kW) motor, and a range of 273 miles (440 km) WLTP. Its base price is €41,490, which may be an indication of what the pricing will be for the EX30, which Volvo expects to be its best selling model in a few years.
The automotive press is ripe with speculation that the specs for the EX30 will be very close to those of the Smart #1, although Volvo has yet to release any official information about the new model. That speculation seems entirely plausible, even though it is unconfirmed.
Volvo EX30 Aimed At Younger Buyers
Electrive says with the introduction of the EX30, the average age of Volvo buyers is expected to drop by 10 years. But Rowan is concerned that will be too costly for younger buyers and so Volvo plans on selling it primarily on a subscription basis for a monthly fee. “With the subscription model, it is more possible to appeal to younger customers,” Rowan says. Handelsblatt estimates the subscription would be about 600 to 700 euros a month.
Electrive also says Volvo has ruled out battery swapping as a way to keep prices manageable for younger buyers. That may be because the battery pack will be a structural component of the car for added safety — a virtue that Volvo has leveraged to appeal to customers for nearly 100 years.
Rowan said Volvo will offer a choice of batteries in the EX30 “so a customer can choose the range that best fits their lifestyle and their budget.” He added that Gen Z buyers “still want top safety equipment, a fantastic ride and high quality.” Autoblog points out the Honda-e sells in Europe with a 35 kWh battery — enough for a range of 135 miles.
Jim Rowan also predicts electric cars will reach price parity with conventional cars by 2025. At the moment, the conventional XC40 starting price is $17,200 less than the XC40 Recharge. Barring further global upheavals, Rowan said, “I still think we are very much on track for price parity, because prices will come down pretty quickly when supply starts to meet demand again. In addition, we are starting to see some really interesting things when it comes to anode and cathode materials and battery chemistries such as the use of LFP (lithium iron phosphate) in certain cases. That’s all going to bring down the cost to price parity.”
Will It Come To America?
The United States is a very important market for Volvo and the EX30 is a very important vehicle for Volvo. It seems essential the company sell its “baby” SUV in America and yet there are a number of factors that will make that a challenge.
First, it will be competing against cars from other manufacturers that may be eligible for the new $7,500 electric car tax credit. Volvo does have a factory in South Carolina, but unless it builds the EX30 there, the car will face a significant price disadvantage. Second, little is known about the supply chain for Volvo’s batteries. Unless the battery materials and components meet US sourcing requirements, the cars won’t be eligible for the US federal tax credit even if final assembly takes place in America.
Geely is a Chinese company. The majority of battery materials and components come from China. How likely is it that
Chairman Mao President Xi will smile upon Geely if it shifts its supply chain to please American regulators? The future of the littlest Volvo is simply unknown and unknowable at this moment.
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