Automotive

Volvo's first fully electric car will also be one of its safest

XC40 Recharge available in US later this year

LOS ANGELES - As part of a bigger effort to reduce its carbon footprint, Volvo unveiled its first fully electric vehicle at an event in Los Angeles.

The XC40 Recharge is the new battery-powered version of Volvo's XC40 small SUV, the Sweden-based automaker said. It will be able to drive up to 400 kilometers, or about 249 miles, on a charge, based on European driving range tests. It will be powered by two electric motors, one driving the front wheels and the other the back, with a total output of up to 408 horsepower.

The XC40 Recharge is based on the same fundamental engineering as the gasoline powered XC40. That underlying architecture was designed from the beginning to support electric as well as gasoline-powered models. But in this version, the electric SUV's battery packs are under the floor, while the space under the hood -- where the engine is mounted in gasoline-powered versions -- can be used as storage.

"The fully electric XC40 will be one of the safest cars we have ever built," Malin Ekholm, head of safety at Volvo Cars, said in a statement.

The SUV's body has been specially reinforced in the front, the rear and around the battery pack to create crush space that will help protect occupants as well as the battery. The XC40 also has a suite of driver assistance technologies that rely on cameras, radar and sonar sensors to help prevent crashes. Volvo has previously pledged that, after 2020, no one would be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo vehicle.

Inside, the XC40 Recharge has a new touchscreen control system for entertainment and other features that were developed with Google. The system, which Volvo said has been in development for about five years, will be able to receive updates over the air, in the same way that Tesla cars can. Owners won't have to take their vehicle to a dealership for software updates. Instead, they will happen overnight when the car is parked.

The XC40 Recharge will be available in the United States later this yearXC40 Recharge will be available in the United States later this year. Prices will start at less than $48,000 after federal tax incentives, a Volvo spokesman said.

 

Carbon neutral by 2040

 

Volvo also detailed plans to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions from its factories and facilities as well as from tailpipe emissions from its vehicles. The company set a goal of reducing its carbon footprint per vehicle by 40% by 2025 and ultimately becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Carbon neutral means the company will not add any carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. That can include doing things such as planting trees to offset carbon dioxide the company and its products release. Mercedes-Benz, which is owned by Germany's Daimler, made a similar commitment earlier this year.

In 2017, Volvo said that, beginning in 2019, it would not introduce any new models powered purely by internal combustion. New models will include hybrid and plug-in hybrids, but also fully electric cars like the XC40 Recharge. Volvo said it would unveil one new fully electric car every five years and plans to have fully electric cars make up half of its sales by 2025.

The Recharge name will be applied to all of Volvo's pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars from now on, the company said Wednesday. Every Volvo model will be available in least one plug-in hybrid or fully electric version. The company also pledged to reimburse buyers of Recharge models for the cost of charging the car at home for one year.


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