Volvo: Electric Future

An observation about the sharp new move for Volvo and Polestar.

c30 electric concept 11
Volvo C30 Electric Concept 2011

Up until recent years, car manufacturers would need a environmentally- conscious image, to satisfy their consumer base, since the 70’s, in order to show that their products weren’t as bad for polluting the environment, but more so to comply with mandatory government regulations, usually set in the USA or Europe. When it comes to electric cars, the concept of a vehicles power-train being electric isn’t as new as many would think; it was actually going to be the common power-train for cars, until the idea of the internal combustion engine came about around the late 19th / early 20th century- as kerosene had been used gas lights before electricity petroleum was a bi-product from making kerosene, which was seen as useless and extremely abundant, now was going to become well-sought after.

Baker Electric Car.PNG
Baker Electric Car- Debuted in 1915 at the New York Auto Show, but the Electric car idea never took off

Ever-since, throughout the 20th century until the 70’s gas-crisis’ came to the USA, effectively making smaller European and Japanese car more popular. Then with more pressing environmental standards car manufacturers faced and greater concerns with global warming, manufacturers would start experimenting with trims or new sole models being Hybrid Electric or being completely- Plug in Electric. While the term ‘EV’ (Electric Vehicle) usually refers to fully electric vehicles, such as ‘BEVs’ (Battery Electric Vehicles), it can also refer to hybrid-engine cars, which are termed as ‘PHEVs’ (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). Hybrids which where notable included the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, while notable electric cars included the likes of the Saturn EV-1, Ford Ranger Electric and the G-Wiz. Both Hybrids and EV’s initially didn’t have a conventional or desirable look, yet something quite quirky and bizarre, such as the Revai G-Wiz, or looked overly futuristic like the Honda Insight gen-1 or the Saturn EV1. And to add to that, they weren’t affordable to most let alone cheap. However lenient-fuel sipping models kept a desire in the market to live on for more environmentally friendly, fuel efficient, cleaner emission vehicles to go on.

 

However the image of hybrid-system cars has been turned around now, with the application of hybrid engine drive-trains advancing, they are being offered in more regular cars, with the potential of what a hybrid drive-train being showcase in performance and exotic cars, such as the BMW I8, McLaren P1, Ferrari La-Ferrari, Porsche 918 and VW Golf GTE. More notably fully-electric power-trains such as BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles)  have become more desirable, with growing investment and greater consumer interest, as battery technology is ever-advancing, with EV (Electric Vehicles) power-trains being showcased in exotic, luxury and performance cars. Since 2009 when Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Roadster, followed years later by the Tesla Model-S, more automakers have been investing more in Electric vehicles, such as Nissan, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes, Jaguar, Volvo, Audi, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ford and Honda, and Volkswagen (Heavily invested after a big diesel scandal coincidentally) to name a few. However one brand stands out. Volvo.

The automaker that is renowned for class leading and innovation with safety, clean tidy design, as well as not to mention producing unassuming fast performance wagon- coining the sleeper term, has been up to something game changing, for a large car company. Volvo has announced in 2017 that all of their cars launched from 2019 will either be fully-electric, or hybrid electric.

hyundai kona electric
Hyundai Kona Electric (EV)

Volvo apparently is even aiming to claim around 50% of all electric car sales in 2019. However those aims will probably be narrowed down to the luxury and performance electric vehicles with regards to more contemporary EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona EV, VW I.D & E-Golf, Honda-E and Ford Focus-Electric. However Volvo has been experimenting with the idea of production ready concept fully electric cars for about 10 years, and have been looking into EV’s and hybrids for longer than that.

s90 electric
Volvo S90 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

However Volvo has recently made headlines with their performance- arm/ partner, Polestar, which will be its own brand in the Volvo Group. Two models have already been revealed, and a third announced; the Polestar 1, influenced by the Volvo Concept Coupe and S90. Secondly, the Polestar 2, a midsize sedan pitched at the Tesla Model 3, as well as the conventional compact executive/ luxury midsize saloons, such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class, and the likes of the Lexus IS and Jaguar XE. Following after the Polestar 2, will be the Polestar 3, which will be a crossover SUV, which like the Polestar 2, will be an BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle), shaped in a dynamic and more car like, influenced by its electric power-train; may be similar and targeted at the Tesla Model X or Y most likely.

v60 polestar
Volvo V60 Polestar- Polestar started as Volvo’s Racing Team, then started making race inspired performance models for Volvo

The Polestar 1, revealed in 2018, based heavily of the 2013 Volvo Concept Coupe, which itself was heavily influenced by the Volvo P1800, will be the first car from the Polestar brand, which Polestar deem as a Performance Hybrid Electric Coupe- it will be a sports car / grand tourer, pitched against other higher tier sports cars like the Lexus LC and BMW i8. The car will be based on Volvos new SPA platform; however 50% will have unique changes to other SPA based vehicles. The drive-train is a hybrid electric, with the internal combustion motor being a 2.0 Inline 4 Volvo Drive-E engine, combined with two electric motors; Polestar claim this ‘bridges today’s technology with the future’. The output should be about 600 BHP and 1,000 Nm of torque, through an AWD setup. Polestar has included in addition to the electric motors, an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG). Included with the electric motors will be planetary gear sets; this will allow for the ability of Torque Vectoring.  The production of this car will commence later in 2019, with only 500 units being produced each year.

polestar 1
Polestar 1

The Polestar 2, revealed in early 2019, will be a more accessible entry into the Polestar line-up and will be a BEV / fully electric car, making it the first fully electric/ BEV in the Volvo Group. It will be a compact executive/ mid-size saloon, pitched heavily towards the Tesla Model 3 and also the Audi e-Tron GT, as well as the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS and even it sister car, the Volvo S60 (Gen 3). It will enter production in early 2020, and initially will cost around £51,000, but lower trim levels will follow and will start from around £34,000. It is heavily influenced by the 2016 Volvo 40.2 Concept. It will possess Dual-electric motors, and will produce about 400 BHP and about 600 Nm of torque; it should be good for a 0-60 time of less than 5 seconds, putting against the center of the Tesla Model 3 range.

polestar 2
Polestar 2

However, with Volvo itself, Volvo will be releasing their first all-electric car later in 2020, which is set to be revealed later in 2019, as the XC40 Electric and will sit above the Volvo XC40 PHEV. The Volvo XC40 EV will demonstrate what is to come with Volvo Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) to arrive in the future. Volvos will inherit technology, such as the Android infotainment system which will be incorporated in the Polestar brand cars. The XC40 seems to be a sensible foundation for presenting their first fully electric EV, as the regular XC40 has proved to be a strong seller since its launch. With regards to it specifications, much information hasn’t been released yet, but it is believed that it’ll have rapid performance; it will have a 75 kWh battery and with a range of about 245 miles, yet it will have about 400 BHP and will have a 0-60 MPH time of about 5 seconds; in contrast this is astounding to think that compact Volvo SUV can have a very long range, produce zero emissions yet have the performance of a used Porsche. However it is believed it will be around £49,000, which isn’t cheap, but isn’t bad with regards to modern luxury cars, especially modern exotic and luxury BEVs. Volvos line-up, including the new S60 sedan will all have one form of an EV power-train at least. It is believed that a new compact successor to the V40 will be arriving in the next year or so, to sit alongside the XC40, which will apparently be all-electric (BEV).

Volvo XC40 T5.PNG
Volvo XC40 T5 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

In an overview, this is a progressive move by Volvo, expanding and adapting to how trends in car technology and power-trains are shaping for the future. While Tesla was a good conveyor to the mass public with changing the perception of EV’s, it seemed cause more encouragement for larger manufacturers to follow with implementing hybrid and BEV power-trains in the flagship and performance cars, much sooner rather than later. However while Tesla is having issues with manufacturing, lead times, bottleneck, and with quality, and other issues, producing a car on-time that isn’t over complex, that hasn’t got quality issues, applied with their in house maintenance network for owners, has been far more difficult for Elon Musk and Tesla than they probably expected. However Volvo is renowned for reliability and safety, as well as clean, solid, high quality cars, Volvo taking aim more directly than other manufacturers, may put Volvo in a beneficial position.

xc90 ev
Volvo XC90 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

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