Update: ‘Interior’ section updated with ‘Unreal Engine.’
Volvo Cars previewed its upcoming electric model with the Volvo Concept Recharge at the Volvo Cars Tech Moment event on June 30, 2021. Since then, several new details have emerged about the new Volvo Electric SUV, including the probable 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, the former President and CEO of Volvo Cars, confirmed the development during the company’s H1 2021 results conference call. He said these “born-electric” models would mark a new beginning at the company, and 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, former President and CEO, Volvo Cars (Volvo Car Group H1 2021 results conference call)
Speaking to Automotive News Europe in October 2021, 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 that month suggested that Volvo Embla could be that name. It’s May 2022 now, but Volvo Cars hasn’t made its announcement.
The Volvo XC90 enjoys a reputation as a proper family SUV with conventional proportions, but the EV era calls for softer designs that provide better aerodynamic efficiency. The flat ‘skateboard’ platforms also allow 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 in the concept 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 giant 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 a part of an umbrella of operating systems here, called VolvoCars.OS.
Volvo Cars has joined hands with Epic Games to use Unreal Engine to develop HMI of its next-gen cars. The 3D creation tool’s application goes beyond games, including automotive electronics. The Swedish automaker will develop digital interfaces inside its future models and render real-time graphics in them. The company’s initial focus will be the Driver Information Module (DIM). It says that DIM is a display providing the driver with relevant information and infotainment features, which probably means the instrument cluster.
Unreal Engine will get computing power from the third-gen Snapdragon Cockpit Platforms. As a result, customers will experience much sharper renderings, richer colors, and all-new 3D animations in the next-gen Volvos. The future Volvos’ next-gen infotainment system will perform more than 2X faster than its predecessor. Graphics generation and processing inside these models will be up to ten times faster!
The first car to contain the new graphics is the new, all-electric flagship model that Volvo Cars will reveal later this year.Volvo Cars’ announcement on June 1, 2022 via media.volvocars.com
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 may come in single-motor 2WD and twin-motor AWD variants. The twin-motor AWD variant’s powertrain may deliver up to 400 kW (536 hp). At a later stage, Volvo Cars may offer even a 500 kW (670 hp) powertrain in its flagship electric SUV.
Specifications here aren’t just made up; they are hints from Henrik Green, the Chief Product Officer at Volvo Cars. Here is what Green told (translated) Recharge (mestmotor.se) at Dagens Industri’s Stora Mobilitetsdagen (The Great Mobility Day) event in December 2021:
Today’s models (XC40 Recharge & C40 Recharge) have 300 kW and will soon be able to get 50 extra kilowatts through an update. The next generation coming in 2022 will receive 400 kW and the step thereafter is 500 kW.Henrik Green, Chief Product Officer, Volvo Cars (Dagens Industri’s Stora Mobilitetsdagen on December 7, 2021)
Green said he “argued strongly” to give the upcoming model a flat battery floor and a powerful central computer, and Volvo Cars agreed to both the suggestions. The third-gen Volvo EVs arriving from 2025 may sit on a new bespoke EV platform, where Volvo Cars will glue batteries into vehicles. It’ll save interior space this way, but it’d have to make provisions for dealing with dead cells. One way is to have a high installed (gross) energy storage capacity and ensure enough buffer cells are available to activate later and retain the original useable (net) energy storage capacity if some cells get damaged or die at any stage in the EV’s lifetime.
The new Volvo electric SUV will feature Ride Pilot, a new unsupervised autonomous driving function. Volvo Cars will offer Ride Pilot initially only in California. 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 car 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 customers to relax and enjoy their highway trips with their hands off the steering wheel. They could read, socialize, write, or work and better use their time. They will need to pay a subscription fee to enable Ride Pilot.
The Volvo Embla electric SUV will enter production at the Volvo Cars South Carolina factory in the U.S. late this year or early next 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, former President and CEO, Volvo Cars (Volvo Car University and Volvo Car South Carolina Technical Center opening in 2021)
While the Volvo XC90 is an import in China, the Volvo Embla 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, former President and 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 segment of the upcoming Volvo electric SUV, expect the company to reveal the Embla later this year. Jim Rowan, Volvo Cars’ new President and CEO, has told Autocar that the new electric SUV is “very much on track” and that the company will release more details about it in Q4 2022 (October-December 2022). Rowan expressed how important this model is for the company, saying, “it’s another building block towards the future.”
The U.S. will likely be among the first markets to receive the new Volvo electric car worldwide, where customer deliveries could begin early next year. The Swedes should price the new Volvo electric SUV competitively between USD 75,000-90,000, undercutting rivals like the BMW iX (USD 83,200 onwards) and the Tesla Model X (USD 114,990 onwards) by a huge margin.
Future Volvo electric car models
Volvo Cars has confirmed the launch of five new EVs to its North and South American dealers, as per a report from Automotive News. The company expects to sell around 20,000 units of the Embla in 2023.
Another future Volvo EV will be an electric crossover with the project name Volvo V546. Volvo Cars will position it, from 2025, between the XC60 and XC90, perhaps as the Volvo XC70 EV equivalent. The company expects to sell about 100,000 units of the model, the production of which will take place in the U.S. and China. An all-electric replacement for the Volvo XC60 and a new EV positioned below the XC40 are also in the pipeline. The fifth model is still a mystery, but it could be a sedan/cross coupe rivaling the Tesla Model 3 or the Tesla Model S.
Volvo electric SUV (Volvo Embla) FAQs
What is the new Volvo Electric SUV release date?
The new Volvo electric, possibly called Volvo Embla, could go on sale by early-2023 in America.
What is the expected Volvo Electric SUV price?
Volvo Cars may price the XC90’s zero-emissions alternative competitively between USD 75,000-90,000.
Featured Image Source: Volvo Cars