There was a time when practically any automaker could earn a few brownie points by proclaiming that they too would be transitioning toward becoming an electric-only manufacturer by [insert year here]. But times have changed and EVs have been around long enough for consumers to expect more than a promise that there would someday be more of them. There’s also a sense that regulations (stemming largely from Europe and China) are forcing the issue to a point where practically all automakers will eventually have to totally seize electrification or be forced to hand over vast amounts of money to governments or their chief rivals as a way to “offset” carbon emissions — making corporate promises far less impressive than they otherwise could have been.
Volvo, which was at the forefront of novel combustion powertrain solutions a few years ago, has since committed itself toward wholly embracing electrification under the tutelage of Geely Automotive. The Swedish-Chinese brand has made repeated announcements suggesting just how important EVs are for its future. On Tuesday, the company announced that it had officially committed itself to going fully electric by 2030 and showcased a new model while also vowing to make future sales online only.
It’s effectively the same strategy being used by Lynk & Co — another Geely subsidiary that just so happens to rely on Volvo architecture. While still uncommon, the direct-to-consumer sales model is supposed to make the purchasing process easier, eliminate the need (or ability) to haggle on prices, and provide the automaker added production flexibilities.
Tuesday’s webcast was loaded with the industry’s favorite buzz terms (mobility, transparency, etc.). But the core aspects involved the company stating that it would be moving to online sales with more opportunities to partake in subscription services we’ve been rather critical of in the past. Volvo also took the opportunity to announce the C40 Recharge EV.
Basically, a battery-powered XC40 with less headroom for rear passengers, the C40 comes with a swept-back panoramic roof and lots of little touches to distinguish itself (bodywork, LEDs, unique colors). It’s also supposed to offer a totally leather-free interior (yay?) and prioritize connectivity features. Considering Volvo already builds the XC40 Recharge EV, it’s easy to miss the point of the C40 until you realize it’s checking the aforementioned trendy boxes.
While the EPA hasn’t had its way with the C40, testing of its boxier brother has us assuming a maximum range of about 208 miles, though Volvo seems to think the newer model is a bit more aerodynamic (which might improve the estimate). The cars are mechanically identical otherwise. Both utilize a 78-kWh battery pack and an electric motor at each axle, resulting in a net output of 402 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque. Volvo figures 60 mph should be available in 4.7 seconds and has capped the crossovers top speed at 112 mph.
The C40 Recharge will also be the first product from Volvo that will be available exclusively over the internet. Production is slated to begin at Volvo’s plant in Ghent, Belgium, this fall. We’re guessing North America will see its first examples near the end of 2021 with a price tag slightly higher than the XC40 Recharge’s $53,990 MSRP.
Afterward, Volvo says it plans to deliver a new EV (or hybrid) every year — starting with the updated XC90 in 2022. Ideally, it would like to see sales split evenly between BEVs and hybrids by 2025 as it strives to eliminate internal combustion entirely by the end of the decade.
“I am totally convinced there will be no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson told the media after Tuesday’s presentation. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.”
[Images: Volvo Cars]