Volvo CEO drops new hints on the Volvo XC20 electric SUV [Update]

Volvo Cars is developing an electric SUV smaller than the XC40 Recharge, given the working title Volvo XC20 by the web media, which may not be the final name as Volvo is pondering over unique titles for its upcoming electric models which are real names and not alphanumerics. Digital artist Nicolas Fourny’s rendering of a new small Volvo SUV is quite interesting, as it previews a model smaller than the XC40.

There aren’t enough takers for a two-door SUV. Just ask the convertible and coupe variants of the Range Rover Evoque, which were pulled off the market after a brief period. Though just a digital reality, a two-door Volvo XC20 looks very appealing to the eyes. The sleek greenhouse comprising only two glass panels and the sharp kick in the beltline contributes to the sportiness.

One can safely expect the Volvo XC20 to have proper rear doors and access to the boot via a conventional tailgate. Now let’s take a look at what we know about the XC20.

Design & Interior

Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group, talked about the design of the upcoming small SUV on the sidelines of the Volvo C40 in March 2021, helping form a mental picture.

Volvo electric SUV unofficial rendering
Łukasz Myszyński’s Volvo XC-X concept pictured. Image Source: Behance

The company feels the need for more electric SUVs and has them in its development pipeline, he added. The so-called Volvo XC20 would be “more streamlined” but still be “high”, because “people really are fond of high seating positions,” Volvo’s chief explained. It wouldn’t be as squarish as current Volvo SUVs and have a softer roofline instead, aiding the aerodynamics and bettering the range. Volvo Cars Group could “surprise” with unconventionally designed EV models in the future, Samuelsson suggested at the Volvo Car Group half-year 2021 financial results presentation. He said:

Electrification will also change the shape of the cars; they need to be more aerodynamic, so maybe we will surprise people a bit there in the future. It’s not just the conventional cars as we have had so far.

Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (Volvo Car Group half-year financial results, 2021)

As for the interior, we expect Scandinavian vibes with a deep focus on functionality, uncluttering, and minimalism. Volvo Cars may extensively use recycled, sustainably sourced materials and maybe even avoid using leather anywhere inside the SUV. An Android Automotive OS-based touchscreen infotainment system is a given, and it should pack all the essential Google apps and services, including Play Store, Google Maps, and Google Voice. Another key feature we expect is a digital instrument cluster with customizable layouts, most likely measuring 12.3 inches diagonally.

Volvo XC20 to ride on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture

The Volvo electric SUV smaller than the XC40 Recharge was first reported by last year. At the 2020 Beijing Auto Show, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group unveiled the Lynk & Co Zero Concept. The electric SUV concept is underpinned by a new platform called ‘Sustainable Experience Architecture’. The Chinese conglomerate owns the Volvo Car Group which controls the Volvo and Polestar brands.

Geely Volvo SEA2 platform
Sustainable Experience Architecture is the world’s first open-source EV architecture and is designed for a global 5-star safety standard. Image: ZGH

During the discussion, Samuelsson revealed that the Volvo SUV smaller than the XC40 could be an all-electric model and off-road capability might not be a focal point.

Samuelsson spoke to the British auto publication about leveraging the parent company’s new architecture. “We’ll also use SEA,” Samuelsson said. Explaining why Volvo Cars Group is looking at SEA instead of CMA for the potential Volvo XC20, Samuelsson said it’s difficult to manufacture a smaller product, which would need to be cheaper, without the necessary cost and scale.

The Lynk & Co Zero Concept became Zeekr 001 when it evolved into road-ready form this year. The production model gives a fair idea of what the SEA platform can deliver commercially already. EVs based on the new dedicated EV platform can achieve a range of up to 712 km (NEDC) with a large, 100 kWh battery pack and accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 3.8 seconds with two high-performance motors. Like Volkswagen Group’s J1 platform, the SEA platform enables a system voltage of 800 volts, double that of most EV platforms. It can recharge 120 kilometers (74.5 mi) of range in below 5 minutes.

Zeekr 001 front three quarters left side
The Lynk & Co Zero Concept-derived Zeekr 001 (pictured) is the first model based on the Sustainable Experience Architecture. Image Source: ZGH

Where the CMA’s development took place in Sweden, the SEA’s was developed in China for the local market where volumes are high. Thus, there are significant savings involved in the new platform, with the Volvo Car Group boss saying Chinese suppliers allow “a very good cost structure”.

Battery & Range expectations in the Volvo XC20

The Volvo XC20 Recharge, or the Volvo C20 Recharge, if the small electric SUV turns out to be coupe-styled, will not have the 78 kWh battery pack. The 40 Series models, which come with it, deliver a range of more than 418 km (260 miles) as per WLTP.

Low and mid versions of the 20 Series may not travel more than 220 km (137 miles) on a full charge in everyday conditions as it would be an urban type of vehicle, much like the Honda e or the Mini Cooper SE. The smaller battery would also bring down the car’s price, as it is the single most expensive component in an EV, to take it well under the XC40’s starting price of about 60,000 Euros (Germany). Volvo Cars could consider a 45-50 kWh battery pack for the XC20 to match the driving needs of the urban customer. Like with competitors, Volvo could offer an XC20 long-range version (about 175 miles).

Volvo XC20 release date & retail

The Volvo XC20 will arrive after the upcoming large electric SUV, the production version of the Volvo Recharge Concept that debuted in June 2021. Samuelsson revealed this development at the Volvo Car Group half-year 2021 financial results presentation, indicating that 2023 could be the year when it reaches showrooms in the first market. Moreover, he almost confirmed that the manufacturing of the small Volvo EV would take place in China, although it was pretty obvious already. Below is what he said:

Regarding timing, we’ve said the next new electric car is really the successor of our SUV flagship. That’s the first one; after that, there will be a smaller SUV, and that’s what we’re talking about here. It’s very likely it will be made in China, yes.

Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (Volvo Car Group half-year financial results, 2021)
Volvo XC20 teaser
The Volvo XC20 (circled) is likely to be debut in the second half of 2023 in two range variants. Image Source: Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars applied for the XC20 trademark two decades ago and is still a holder of the same in many countries, including the USA, Australia, Switzerland, and in fact, the European Union. Should customers demand a micro crossover/SUV, the company has the XC10 trademark also registered. Volvo is considering naming its new family of electric cars straying from the alphanumeric tradition, and it is a strong possibility that it may drop the XC branding with the switch to electric vehicles.

Competitors & strategy

The new small SUV may arrive as an online-only model, like the C40 Recharge. Customers would get to see the model in person at a dealership and take a test drive, but the order process may take place exclusively online. This process should apply to even the ‘Care by Volvo’ subscriptions, not just the outright purchases.

The list of competitors would include the dedicated MINI crossover, the Smart electric SUV, and higher variants of the $25,000 Tesla EV (what we call the Tesla Model 2).

If it goes as planned, Volvo’s electric vehicles will account for 50% of global sales from no later than 2025. By 2030, that number would change to 100% as the company will stop selling thermal-engined vehicles at the end of the decade.

Volvo XC20 FAQs

What is the Volvo XC20 release date?

The Volvo XC20 could debut in the second half of 2023 as a streamlined city crossover.

What would be the Volvo XC20 rivals?

The Volvo XC20 would rival the Mini Cooper SE & upcoming electric crossovers from Mini and Smart.

What is the expected range and specs of the XC20?

SEA platform allows 120 km (74.5 mi) range in under 5 min of charging. Range of the base XC20 could be around 220 km (140 miles).

Featured Image Source: ‘Volvo SC20’ by Nicolas Fourny