Volvo reveals electric XC40 teaser sketches

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 04 Oct 2019

Volvo has released the first teaser sketches of the electric XC40 small SUV, the firm’s first fully electric car that will be unveiled later this month.

The Swedish firm is aiming for more than 50% of its sales volume to be fully electric by 2025. It's focused on producing electric versions of its existing models, rather than developing bespoke EVs like rivals such as Volkswagen.

Despite that, Volvo has said the XC40 EV will feature a number of design changes to differentiate itself from combustion-engined versions, partly due to the electric powertrain not requiring a large grille to cool the engine.

A sketch of the front of the car shows that, as with other EVs, the radiator grille will be replaced by a covered front fascia, which Volvo says will be used to package the sensors for the advanced driver assistance systems. A rear sketch shows that, as with the plug-in version, the EV charging point will be located on the rear pillar where the fuel filler would normally be.

Robin Page, Volvo’s design boss, said the XC40 EV’s design would be “even sleeker and more modern” than that of the regular car. He added: “Without the need for a grille, we have created an even cleaner and more modern face, while the absence of tailpipes does the same at the rear.

“This is the approach we will explore more and more as we continue down the road of electrification.”

Volvo has also revealed the EV will feature a "brand new driver interface" that has been developed for its electric cars. It will also be offered with two new 19-inch and 20-inch wheel options and in eight colours. The interior will feature new "sporty styling details" and carpets made from recycled materials.

The electric XC40 will also feature a small, 30-litre front trunk – also known as a ‘frunk’ – under the bonnet in the space freed up by the absence of a combustion engine.

The XC40 is one of Volvo's most popular models, and the electric version will be revealed on 16 October. While few technical details of the model have been given, it will follow the EV trend, with motors mounted at the front and rear and the battery located under the floor.

Volvo has said it aims to maintain its established reputation for safety with the new model, with safety boss Malin Ekholm saying: “Regardless of what drives a car forward, be it an electric motor or combustion engine, a Volvo must be safe.”

The front structure of the XC40, which is built on Volvo's Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform, has been redesigned to account for the absence of an engine. Volvo has also developed a “unique” new safety structure: a safety cage around the battery made from aluminium and embedded in the body structure. Volvo says this creates a built-in crumple zone around the battery and lowers the car’s centre of gravity.

The car has also been reinforced at the rear through the integration of the electric powertrain into the body structure, with the intent to shift any forces caused in a collision away from the passenger area.

The electric XC40 will also be the first model fitted with Volvo's new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) sensor platform, which is designed for expanded autonomous capabilities in the future.

While no details have been given about the electric powertrain, it's likely to be similar to that used by sister brand Polestar's 2, which was revealed earlier this year and is also built on the CMA platform. That car uses a 27-module, 78kWh battery pack.

The powertrain in the performance-focused Polestar 2 is claimed to produce 402bhp and 487lb ft, with a ‘target’ range of 311 miles on the WLTP cycle. The electric XC40 is unlikely to offer as much power or torque, due to the differing goals and target markets of Volvo and Polestar.

The electric XC40 will be the second electrified version of the model, joining the XC40 T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid.