Updated 1 year, 4 months ago

Volvo’s all-electric Tesla rival to arrive in 2019

Volvo will have a full range of plug-in vehicles by 2020, led by an all-electric, Tesla-rivalling S60-sized car. Plug-in hybrid versions of all other production cars will be offered, including the new V40 front-wheel drive hatch due in 2017.

The new Volvo XC90, Auto Express’s current Car of the Year, will soon be available in T8 Twin-Engine form with its battery-powered electric motor and 2.0-litre petrol engine combining for a total of 402bhp. That will sit alongside the current plug-in hybrid V60 Twin Engine model, while a Twin Engine plug-in version of next year’s S90 saloon is also expected. All three of these models combine an electric motor powering the rear wheels and engine powering the front wheels for four-wheel drive.

2019 will see the launch of the all-electric Tesla rival, sat on Volvo’s Scalable Product Arcitecture (SPA) that also underpins the new XC90 and forthcoming S90. The new models is expected to be similar in size to the current S60 model and is most likely to be a saloon model, pitching it head-to-head with Tesla’s Model 3, which is due to be launched in 2017.

Volvo is confident the new electric car will have a range of over 300 miles, while performance should be Tesla-rivalling, too. Although a saloon is the most natural first fit for an all-electric model, Volvo hasn’t ruled out an XC60-sized SUV to provide a rival for the new Tesla Model X.

Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars, said: “We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream. We are confident that by 2020, 10 per cent of Volvo’s global sales will be electrified cars.”

The electric story won’t stop there with plug-in versions of the new front-wheel drive 40-series cars – a replacement for the V40 hatch, an S40 saloon and an XC40 small SUV. Volvo has confirmed that these models will be based on a new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) developed jointly between Volvo and its Chinese owners Gheely.

Both CMA and SPA platforms share much of their electrical architecture, as well as drivetrains, and have both been designed with plug-in versions in mind. In addition to the new range of modular four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, 1.5-litre three-cylinder units will also be available in CMA cars. The first of those to arrive will be 2017’s new V40 hatchback.

Volvo’s platform technology enables the company to operate what R&D boss Peter Mertens describes as a “plug and play strategy” – making a wide range of tech available across all models.

With Volvo saying it expects to increase sales from an expected 500,000 this year to 800,000 by 2020, that means 80,000 Volvos will be electrified by the end of the decade. Volvo is also committed to develop its safety systems to aim for no deaths or injuries in new Volvos by 2020.

Auto Express | Steve Fowler