Supplement, Wheelers

How Tesla influenced a key element of Volvo’s first EV

Published : 22 Dec 2019 06:33 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 09:19 AM

Volvo Chief Technology Officer Henrik Green says the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 midway through the development of the Swedish automaker’s first full-electric car was a game changer.

When Tesla decided to offer the Model 3 with a battery pack with a top capacity of more than 70 kilowatt hours Volvo knew it had to respond.

“We increased the battery size,” Green told Automotive News Europe. “We thought we had a good balance between cost and size before, but when we saw that come out we said, ‘Maybe they have a point here’.” That is why Volvo chose a 78 kWh battery for the XC40 Recharge rather than a powerpack that Green said would have been in the 60s for kWh.

“We put in some extra modules,” the CTO said. “It moves the price point up a bit but it adds range so we would be in the same area” as the Model 3.

Volvo has not announced official pricing for the XC40 Recharge, but it is expected to be similar to its sister model, the Polestar 2, which will sell for 39,900 to 59,900 euros.

Volvo says the XC40 Recharge can travel more than 400 km under WLTP testing while the Model 3’s base model, which starts as 44,390 euros in Germany, has a range of 409 km. The Model 3’s long-range variant can go 560 km on a single charge and starts at 54,090 euros.

Green revealed another secret about the XC40 Recharge.

“I wasn’t as confident when we made this decision three years ago,” to make the XC40 Recharge Volvo’s first battery-electric vehicle. “I thought it was much more of a gamble, but now I think it’s in the perfect position.”

That is because it is poised to be the only full-electric SUV in the 40,000 to 60,000 euro price range when it arrives on the market next year.

Other battery-electric crossovers – such as the Jaguar I-Pace (79,450 euros), Mercedes-Benz EQC (71,281 euros) and Tesla Model X (91,700 euros) – are much more expensive.

Green’s only regret now? “That we couldn’t have it on the market yesterday.”

    —Douglas a. Bolduc