Volvo Aims for Plug-Ins to Be 10 Percent of Sales by 2020

By · October 28, 2015

Volvo XC90 T8

Volvo this spring began taking reservations from U.S. buyers for its first global plug-in vehicle, the XC90 T8 SUV. The car will begin deliveries in North America sometime in the fall. In the U.S., the XC90 is the first Volvo model to get a plug-in variant, although future editions of the S90 full-size SUV and XC60 crossover are expected in the next few years. In fact, Volvo will gradually add plug-in hybrid variants to its entire lineup—eventually offering plugs for all its vehicles as soon as 2020. By that time, the company expects that electrified models will account for 10 percent of its global sales.

The T8 is a seven-seat luxury plug-in hybrid SUV with an all-electric range of 17 miles and an estimated 59 MPGe efficiency rating. The XC90 also boasts an impressive 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque—making it competitive with its German rivals. It starts at about $69,000 before a $4,600 federal tax credit.

All things considered, the XC90 T8 is an impressive first showing for the carmaker, which is redefining itself in the U.S. market after years of declining sale. Volvo has leveraged its superlative track record for safety, with a vehicle lineup that also appeals to luxury buyers in terms of performance, technology, and styling.

The company's first plug-in was the V60 sedan—although it’s only available in Europe. Future 60 through 90 series Volvo models will be built with the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture. Smaller models will be built on the Compact Modular Architecture. Following the industry trend towards platform consolidation makes sense for a smaller carmaker with a limited development budget, and also helps to spread electric powertrains to multiple vehicles.

Volvo calls its plug-in hybrid powertrain a “twin engine” configuration. In the XC90, it consists of: a supercharged and turbocharged 316-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine mounted to the front wheels; a 34-kW electric motor also mounted to the front wheels; and a 65 kW rear axle electric motor. Together, the powertrain provides the best mix of power and efficiency you’ll find in a midsize SUV that isn’t a $132,000 Tesla Model X.

While Volvo is on a somewhat aggressive schedule for plug-in hybrids, it’s being more cautious with pure electric vehicles. Automotive News earlier this month reported that Volvo will offer a pure battery-electric car, but not until about 2019. The industry publication also said that Volvo anticipates a decline in diesel sales over the coming years—especially in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

The Volvo EV is rumored to be an SUV with a range of roughly 325 miles.

"We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream," said Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive.

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