Thomas Ingenlath, speaking at the new S60 sedan launch in Charleston, South Carolina, has confirmed that Volvo’s first foray into their fully electric line-up will be a version of the XC40. The design chief also said that the next generation of the XC90 will also get an EV variant.
Ingenlath said that the XC40 would be unveiled after the firm’s electric performance sub-brand Polestar launches its second car, the Polestar 2 (due in 2019). The electric version of the XC90 would follow, soon after; the electric SUV is due to go into production at Volvo's new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2021.
Recently, Volvo set itself a target of 50 percent electrification of its sales volume by 2025. To this end, the Swedish carmaker (which is owned by Chinese giant Geely) has pledged to perform an electric overhaul of its range from 2019. Every Volvo will eventually be offered with a mild hybrid, hybrid or battery-electric powertrain option, and the firm won't be launching any diesel variants of its forthcoming models.
Ingenlath went on to say that instead of building new electric-only vehicles from scratch, the brand would currently be focused on producing electric versions of cars in their current portfolio – much like what Volkswagen is doing with its ID line-up.
“It’s not a secret any more that the first full-electric Volvo is on its way with the XC40 coming," said Ingenlath. "It will arrive very soon after the Polestar 2. That is the first to come that’s not exotic. We’ll start with XC40 and then on it will come step after step into our model range. The next car will be the next-generation XC90."
"That will be the master plan of how electrification will come to the Volvo product range. We will not establish products beside our hybrids, we will introduce electrification as a powertrain variant within the existing portfolio," he went on to say. “You could say that is different to a lot of the mass-production brands. But I have a hard time to understand how their plan will work in the long run. Electrification is the future of the automotive industry, so how do you handle that as soon as you come to the majority of electric cars? How do you handle it in your portfolio? I think it’s much more natural to say it’s a powertrain variant that over time will take up the majority of the sold vehicles."
The SX40 and XC90 all-electric Volvos are due with lithium-ion battery power (like their sibling from sister brand Polestar). The XC40 EV will join the XC40 plug-in hybrid in the range to give that car two electrified variants. While Volvo focuses on the electrification its current line-up, Ingenlath said that the Polestar sub-brand – of which he is also the head – could be used to develop new and bolder EV-only cars.
"We definitely don’t want to bring something that we’ve so successfully just launched like an XC40 to an end just because combustion engines will disappear," he said. "To look at new formats, new bodystyles and non-traditional elements, we founded Polestar to take care of that end of the scope. We developed that strategy: full electrification of the Volvo range, making it a natural part of the offer, and at the same time developing new, unconventional elements in the Polestar brand."
The new S60, which was unveiled by the automaker in South Carolina today, illustrates the brand's new electrification philosophy. It comes with two plug-in hybrid variants, the T8 Twin Engine which produces a combined 390hp, and a Polestar Engineered performance version of the same model. The latter has been developed by Volvo’s new performance EV sub-brand and has a combined power output of 415hp.
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