Volvo Reiterates Big EV Plans, Starting in 2019

By · May 09, 2017

A year ago, Volvo unveiled the Volvo Concept 40.1—one of two sleek and sporty concept cars to introduce its new compact platform. The design accommodates electric and plug-in hybrid batteries.

Volvo wants to be a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles. The EV goals expressed by the Swedish automaker, which is owned by Chinese company Geely, echoes similar claims by several manufacturers such as BMW, Ford and Volkswagen. These carmakers have announced big plans but have not yet produced electric cars in significant volumes. The first test of Volvo’s commitment will be delivering on its plans to debut its first all-electric model in 2019.

The new Volvo EV is expected to rival the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 regarding range and cost. It’s likely to use the company’s small 40-series platform, sell for under $40,000, and offer a driving range of about 250 miles.

“Around 2019 or 2020, it will make absolute sense to sell an electric car that offers range and performance in a very affordable package,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development for Volvo. His interview, published on Digitial Trends, reveals that the 2019 target date might extend into 2020. “I wouldn’t say we have a lot of customers that ask us for an electric car today," he said. “They’re quite happy with what we offer. It’s more of us forecasting how battery efficiency will improve from now until then.”

Green also spoke about the company’s new efficient three-cylinder engine that could be readily deployed in plug-in hybrids. Volvo currently sells the XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid luxury SUV in the United States—at a rate of about 100 units per month. For other markets, it also makes plug-in hybrid variants of its mid-size and large sedans, using the same turbo- and super-charged 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive two-motor powertrain that’s employed in the XC90. It provides about 17 miles of all-electric range before using gasoline.

The company’s new powertrain—which combines a 3-cylinder engine, 55-kilowatt electric motor, and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission—would be used for smaller cars.

Volvo’s commitment to having 1 million in cumulative sales of electrified vehicles by 2025 will include both pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

Speaking at the UN Global Compact Nordic Network conference on Monday, Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive, said, “I am confident that our next generation of fully autonomous, electrified and connected vehicles will help make the cities of the future cleaner, safer and smarter.” He suggested that improvements to internal combustion engines in term of emissions and efficiency had limitations. “That is why we have such an ambitious target when it comes to electrification."

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