Volvo has announced plans to launch an all-electric saloon in 2019, set to tackle Tesla Motors head-on with a 300-mile range and high levels of performance.
The car will head up a wider plan to electrify the entire Volvo range by 2020. Every model will eventually be available as a plug-in hybrid – including the replacement for Volvo’s V40 hatchback, which is due in 2017.
Subscribe to evo magazine
First to arrive and joining Volvo’s existing V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin-Engine, which pairs a 2-litre petrol four-cylinder unit with an electric motor. Combined power output is 401bhp with torque of 472lb ft, and claimed combined economy of 134.5mpg.
A similarly-powered S90 saloon is set to follow, but it’s Volvo’s all-electric Tesla rival that could prove most significant. Expected to be similar in size to the current Volvo S60 and built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), the company suggests the car will cover more than 300 miles on a charge. Volvo's existing research already shows that Twin-Engine drivers cover 50 per cent of their mileage on electric power.
Similar in size to the upcoming Tesla Model 3 – expected to arrive in 2017 – Volvo also hints at Tesla-rivalling performance. It’s not the only Tesla model in the Swedish car maker’s sights: The nature of SPA means the all-electric drivetrain could also be used in the XC60, giving Volvo a rival for the recently-launched Tesla Model X.
‘We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology’ explained Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. Samuelsson is confident that in just two years’ time, a tenth of Volvo’s global sales will feature some form of electrification.
Since Volvo plans to increase sales from an expected half a million in 2015 to 800,000 by 2020, as many as 80,000 electrified Volvos could find homes each year by 2020.
Tesla Motors sells relatively small numbers of vehicles compared to some of the world's larger automakers, but its focus on electrification and recently autonomous driving have put its technological capabilities in the spotlight.
If Volvo can produce cars with similar performance with widespread use of electrification, the American company may soon have a fight on its hands.