Update: ‘Autonomous Driving’ section added.
Volvo Cars previewed an upcoming electric model with the Volvo Concept Recharge at the Volvo Cars Tech Moment event on June 30, 2021. Several new details have emerged about the new Volvo Electric SUV since then, including the probable name.
The Volvo XC90 enjoys a reputation of looking like a proper SUV with conventional proportions, but the EV era calls for softer designs that provide better aerodynamic efficiency. The flat ‘skateboard’ platforms also allow for changes to the proportions and lower bodies. As a result, the Volvo Concept Recharge has a low and curvy hood, a sleek greenhouse, and a sloping roofline. The large, protruding wheels and the wider body present the Volvo electric SUV with an impressive stance.
A shield-like structure bears the Iron Mark logo instead of a traditional concave waterfall grille. Signature light elements like Thor’s Hammer headlight and vertical rear lamps are present on the concept, though, but in reimagined avatars. The unusual bulge on the front of the roof is a LiDAR sensor from Luminar. Volvo Cars plans to offer the production version with this equipment as standard, which means that every unit it sells will be hardware-ready for fully autonomous driving with Highway Pilot.
The Volvo electric SUV concept features a futuristic, lounge-style interior with a low-profile dashboard, a humungous 15-inch freestanding portrait touchscreen, a sleek and compact instrument cluster, and a detached center console. Android Automotive OS powers the instrument cluster and infotainment system. This means that Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play are built-in. Android Automotive OS is actually a part of an umbrella of operating systems here, called VolvoCars.OS.
Volvo Cars is developing two variants of the SPA 2 platform, one for hybrids and one for EVs. The latter is reportedly a completely different, skateboard chassis, though it carries the same name. The battery pack lies under the vehicle’s flat floor, allowing short overhangs, a long wheelbase, and a very spacious cabin in the electric SUV. Also worth noting is the large storage area between the driver and front passenger seats.
The new Volvo electric SUV will feature Ride Pilot, a new unsupervised autonomous driving function. Volvo Cars will offer Ride Pilot only in California first.
Two dozen sensors, including an Iris LiDAR sensor from Luminar, will help the vehicle understand the surrounding environment and constantly monitor it. Eight cameras, sixteen ultrasonic sensors, and five radars will work with the LiDAR sensor to give the vehicle the vision it needs.
The software required for the autonomous driving system to work is a collaborative effort of Zenseact, Volvo Cars, and Luminar. The Swedish automaker is already testing autonomous driving functions back home, along with Zenseact, and it plans to start testing them on Californian roads by mid-2022. The new EV’s Level 3 autonomous driving capability will allow its customers to relax and enjoy their highway trips with their hands off the steering wheel. They could read, socialize, write, or work and make better use of their time. They will need to pay a subscription fee to enable Ride Pilot.
Name – Are you the Volvo Embla?
Volvo Cars has planned a new type of naming system for its future EVs, which will be born-electric models. Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group, confirmed the development during the company’s H1 2021 results conference call. He said that these “born-electric” models will mark a new beginning at the company, and so, their names should reflect that milestone. As a result, the new Volvo electric SUV will not get the familiar ‘XC’ or ‘C’ alphanumeric name.
Now we’re talking about a totally new architecture, a new generation of born electric, all-electric cars with central compute, and I think it’s good and clear to mark that also this is a new beginning. And that’s why we’re not going to have sort of numbers and letters and say ancient-year type of.. We will give them a more name. And I said we will give them a name as you’re giving your born child a name. And we have a very interesting and creative discussion going on.Hakan Samuelsson, CEO, Volvo Cars (Volvo Car Group H1 2021 results conference call)
Later, speaking to Automotive News Europe, Samuelsson suggested that the company will reveal the name of the flagship Volvo electric SUV in March 2022. The first letter of the name will be a vowel. A quick check for recent trademark filings suggests that Volvo Embla could be that name.
The electric SUV will enter production at the Volvo Cars South Carolina factory in the U.S. this year.
We have now taken the decision to build that (Polestar 3) in this factory here (South Carolina). So we are expanding the factory to build also that car. But then yes, some months later, the very first Volvo, all-electric from this new architecture, will be built in our factory here in South Carolina. So, it will be the first factory in the world, building our all-new generation, all-electric cars, before Europe and before China. And with those two cars, this factory will then after a while also be the only plant in the Volvo Group which only makes full-electric cars.Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (Volvo Car University and Volvo Car South Carolina Technical Center opening)
In China, while the Volvo XC90 is an imported model, its all-electric alternative could see local production for domestic sales. Volvo Cars announced in July 2021 that it plans to acquire Geely Holding’s stake in its joint venture companies in the country. The company will then have full control over its Chinese operations, including R&D, manufacturing, and sales. Samuelsson explained the move during the company’s H1 2021 results conference call.
We are going to invest a lot of money, of course, into the factories in China to electrify them. I mean one of our very first electric cars, China will really be one of the first in the world to really build our electric cars. So, of course you want to do that and have full control of the process and operations, exactly as we’re having in Gothenburg, Belgium, and U.S.Hakan Samuelsson, CEO, Volvo Cars (Volvo Car Group H1 2021 results conference call)
Release Date & Price
While Volvo Cars hasn’t announced the release date or price band of the Volvo electric SUV, expect the company to reveal the production model in the first half of the year and launch it towards the end of 2022. The U.S. will likely be among the first markets to receive the new Volvo EV worldwide. The Swedes may price the new Volvo electric SUV competitively between USD 70,000-80,000, undercutting rivals like the BMW iX (USD 83,200 onwards) and the Tesla Model X (USD 89,990 onwards) by a huge margin.
Volvo electric SUV (Volvo Embla?) FAQs
What is the new Volvo Electric SUV release date?
The name is likely to be confirmed by March 2022, leading into the global premiere. Customer deliveries should begin in late-2022.
What is the expected Volvo Electric SUV price?
The Swedes may price the XC90’s zero-emissions alternative competitively between USD 70,000-80,000.
Featured Image Source: Volvo Cars