XC40 Marks Volvo’s Initial Response In The Race To Be All-Electric By 2030.
“The XC40 will appeal to Volvo’s traditional market, while the Polestar is an emerging brand with a much sportier profile”
Volvo Car’s ambition to go all-electric by 2030 was looking a bit threadbare with only one model available but plans which emerged late last month to introduce 5 new battery-electric vehicles over coming years have added credibility to this ambitious target.
Volvo Cars, the Swedish auto manufacturer owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding, has one battery electric vehicle (BEV), the compact SUV C40 Recharge front-wheel drive and XC40 all-wheel drive version. It doesn’t yet appear in Western Europe’s top 10 sellers and last year sales totalled 14,590, much better than the previous year’s 4,626. Its all-electric Polestar stablemate sold 18,945 “2s” last year, up from 9,757 the previous year, according to Schmidt Automotive Research.
The 5 new battery-electric models will start arriving next year, a report claimed in Automotive News. They include large and small SUVs, a sedan and two wagons. The first model will be a full-sized SUV with 3 rows of seats, and another model will be between the XC60 and XC90 SUVs. There will be a smaller model than the C40/XC40. The reports also suggested Polestar, reckoned to be the sporty brand compared with Volvo’s traditional solid, safety tradition, will launch a Porsche Cayenne-matching SUV.
IHS Markit auto analyst Ian Fletcher said Volvo seems confident it can become all-electric by 2030, but meanwhile it is hedging its bets with traditional big sellers like the XC60 and XC90.
“In terms of the product that they’re planning, the report in Automotive News fits broadly within our expectation. It is also within the expectations of their customers now, with these types of products being its biggest sellers. It won’t cause huge gaps in its range when the existing ICE-based (internal combustion engine) products are finally phased out,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said the Polestar is similar under the skin. The XC40 will appeal to Volvo’s traditional market, while the Polestar is an emerging brand with a much sportier profile.
Polestar probably won’t eat into XC40 sales as they appeal to different buyers.
“We are already starting to see from Polestar and its concept vehicles that there is starting to be a shift away in terms of design and they will be making similar changes in the look and feel,” Fletcher said.
Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO Dynamics, said Volvo has started its electrification in the right way and looks ambitious, with Polestar attracting those early-adopters seeking performance electric cars.
“Polestar is in my opinion an extension of the brand that’s attacking another kind of consumer: those looking for performance electric cars. Although it has proven to be difficult to gain traction when your direct rival is Tesla, the Polestar 2 has done well in countries like Norway. We must remember that Polestar is not a well-established brand among the consumers in Europe; it is not present everywhere in the region and has only one model in its lineup. Still, I think it has potential,” Munoz said.
“The case of Lynk & Co (a 3rd Geely electric brand) is a good example of how a Chinese brand can find its place in the saturated European car market. The L&C 01 is a modern, appealing compact SUV with good quality that can be a serious alternative to the plug-in SUVs from the traditional makers. It is at the end a more affordable Volvo,” said Munoz.
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania-based Auto Forecast Solutions analyst Sam Fiorani said in the U.S., Volvo’s electric competition includes Acura, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Lexus and Lincoln, and even some BMWs and Mercedes.
“The overall BEV market in the U.S. will be over 2.7 million units by 2025, with about half of that total being from luxury and near-luxury brands such as Volvo. By 2025, Volvo’s North American production of BEVs will be ramping up and U.S. sales will rely largely on imports. Longer-term, Volvo is well positioned to take advantage of a growing BEV market,” Fiorani said.
“Currently in the United States where a federal EV incentive can lower the cost of an EV by $7,500, the all-wheel drive XC40 Recharge starts at $51,700. With the average price of a new vehicle currently running in excess of $45,000, a battery electric crossover from an upscale brand with a net price around $45,000 is relatively inexpensive,” he said.
I have spent some time behind the wheel of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate and in Europe its main competitors are the VW ID.4, Tesla Y, Kia EV6, Mercedes EQA, Ford Mustang Mach E, and Skoda Enyaq.
Its electric technology is on a par with the competition. The claimed official range of the battery is 256 miles, and I managed an average 197 miles after 6 refills from my home charger. That’s a shortfall of nearly one quarter, roughly par for the course. Its highway cruise performance was close to the average too, with the 75-mph fast lane equivalent penalty of 35%, giving a theoretical long-distance cruising range of 128 miles.
Surprisingly, the range availability was not easily obtainable in terms of actual miles. Instead, there was a big screen number showing the percentage of the battery remaining. To find out what this meant in terms of miles, you have to hunt around the system to find it. Then the range was presented in 10-mile chunks. This irritant was the same in a Polestar2 I drove more than a year ago.
In Britain, this top of the range model retails at the equivalent of $78,800 after tax and before subsidy.
|Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate|
|(*estimated at steady indicated 75 mph)|
|Power:||408 hp from 4,350 to 13,900 rpm|
|Torque:||660 Nm from 0 to 4,350|
|Claimed range:||256 miles|
|WintonsWorld test range:||197 miles (average of 6 refills) – shortfall 23%|
Highway cruising penalty*:
|Charging:||DC 150 kW 10 to 80% 37 minutes|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph 4.5 seconds|
|Top Speed:||112 mph|
|Warranty:||3 years/60,000 miles|
|Boot capacity:||452/1,328 litres|
|Competition:||VW ID.4, Tesla Y, Kia EV6, Mercedes EQA, Ford Mustang Mach E, Skoda Enyaq|
|Rating:||*** out of 5|
|Price:||£58,050 before subsidies|
|For:||handsome, capable, high quality, almost OTT performance|
|Against:||finicky range data, frustrating voice “control”, price|