Volvo is Going All-Electric by 2030

They are changing more than just the engine, but also how they sell and service the car.

Volvo C40 Recharge


Volvo has formally launched its first all-electric production model, the C40 Recharge, and more importantly, announced that by 2030, every car it makes will be pure electric. (The electric XC40 was a variant of its gasoline version, it's confusing!) The car itself is interesting, but the real story is probably the whole package that comes with it.

Volvo Driving
Why is the road always empty in these photos?.


The car looks SUV-ish, but has a lower roofline and front end while retaining those SUV features that apparently people want. "Inside, the C40 Recharge provides customers with the high seating position that most Volvo drivers prefer." Apparently, because they are concerned about animal welfare, "It is also the first Volvo model to be completely leather-free."

frame and motors


One of the problems with sitting higher up in an SUV is the center of gravity, but Volvo says this is one of the benefits of electric vehicles; the batteries are in the floor inside a protective steel box, which lowers the center of gravity and improves handling. The 78kWh batteries give it an anticipated range of 420 kilometers (210 miles by U.S. EPA standard). Torque, usually defined as the turning force, is a big marketing feature for electric vehicles because they deliver power almost instantly; that's why Hummer listed this usually obscure specification prominently in its Super Bowl ads. The Volvo has 660 newton/meters, slightly less than half of the Hummer, but it is probably half the weight and will take off like a rocket. (It is still a hefty 4800 pounds.) The batteries will charge to 80% in just 40 minutes at a 150Kw charging station.



Volvo makes a big deal about its Android "infotainment" system, but unlike other electric car manufacturers, the screen is modestly sized. Volvo says that for safety they still want manual controls for many functions, and are not interested in having the screen take over the car.

Phone user


It's loaded with safety features as well, including a combination of radars, cameras and infra-red detectors that they say can detect and warn drivers of cyclists, other cars, and of course, they had to show a pedestrian crossing out from between two cars while looking at a phone, a stereotype that I wish they hadn't used.

As a Treehugger who has mostly hung up his keys and keeps writing that electric cars won't save us, it is still an interesting trend in car design and marketing. Volvo says they are serious about climate:

"The company’s transition towards becoming a fully electric car maker is part of its ambitious climate plan, which seeks to consistently reduce the life cycle carbon footprint per car through concrete action. Its decision also builds on the expectation that legislation, as well as a rapid expansion of accessible high-quality charging infrastructure, will accelerate consumer acceptance of fully electric cars."

They are also selling the cars online only and as a complete package including service, warranty, insurance, and home charging options. The car comes with unlimited data and can be updated as needed. This all makes sense since dealerships made most of their money off service and electric cars do not need nearly as much.

It's a good example of how a company can not only accept the inevitable but drive towards it at high speed; this is a pretty rapid change for the automotive industry. Although Treehugger was told that Volvo operates independently from its Chinese owners, no doubt they get a boost from the fact that there a rapid conversion to electric cars happening in China. As the press release concludes:

“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change.”



It wouldn't be Treehugger if I didn't complain that 4800 pounds is a lot of metal to move 175 pounds of person, and represents a lot of embodied carbon in its manufacture. There is no reason for electric cars to look like gasoline cars, it could be a whole new paradigm, lighter and smaller. But Volvo's commitment to safety was always serious, and maybe their commitment to climate will be too.