As of 2030, Volvo Cars will only sell battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Confirming its electrified overhaul, the Swedish carmaker also announced its new family of BEVs will only be available to buy online. Bringing these two concepts to life, Volvo unveiled the C40 Recharge as well, an all-electric C-SUV available only online.
Carmakers are plotting detailed roadmaps towards an electrified future. Volvo has now added an additional layer of complexity, with a commitment to online-only sales. COVID-19 has undoubtedly demonstrated the potential of digital sales platforms to carmakers, but Volvo will need to commit to the inclusion of its physical retail partners to make this work.
An online showcase was Volvo’s latest demonstration of commitment to the premium electric-car market. A star-studded cast consisting of the carmaker’s chief executive Håkan Samuelsson, chief technology officer Henrik Green, as well as its heads of commercial operations and sustainability, detailed the three-pronged plan for the future: electric, online and growth.
By the beginning of the next decade, Volvo will only sell BEVs, phasing out internal-combustion engines (ICEs), including hybrids, from its portfolio. This move falls in line with its climate plan, which aims to reduce the life cycle carbon footprint per car.
The OEM has seen an uptick in demand for its electrified models in recent years, and holds the conviction that the ICE market is a shrinking one. The plans also follow an expectation that consumer confidence in electromobility will rise alongside legislation changes and infrastructure development.
‘There is no long-term future for cars with an internal-combustion engine,’ said Green. ‘We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only carmaker 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.’
The new flagbearer
2019 saw the rollout of Volvo’s fully-electric car, the XC40 Recharge. By 2025, the carmaker aims for 50% of its global sales to consist of BEVs, with the rest made up of hybrids. This shift towards electric vehicles will continue with the C40 Recharge, which will be the first Volvo in history designed as ‘pure-electric only.’
The C-SUV will sit atop the CMA vehicle platform, driven by twin-electric motors and powered by a 78kWh battery that can be fast-charged to 80% in roughly 40 minutes. The anticipated WLTP range of 420km is expected to improve over time as over-the-air software updates come into play, updating the car even after it leaves the factory. Expected to go into production in the autumn, the C40 will be built alongside the XC40 in Volvo’s Ghent plant in Belgium.
‘The C40 Recharge represents the future of Volvo and shows where we are going,’ said Green. ‘It is fully electric, offered online only with a convenient care package and will be available for quick delivery. Getting a new Volvo was never this attractive.’
The C40 will premiere exclusively online, setting the standard for every Volvo BEV to follow. In a transformative move aimed at its wholesale model, the carmaker confirmed its new commercial strategy. It will invest heavily in its online sales channels, reducing the complexity alongside set-pricing models.
‘The future of Volvo Cars is defined by three pillars: electric, online and growth,’ said Lex Kerssemakers, head of global commercial operations. ‘We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do.’
While the move will require heavy investment from the carmaker, it also plans to build stronger customer relationships together with its retail partners. Volvo confirmed the ongoing importance of these physical spaces, calling them crucial to the customer experience. They will remain responsible for a variety of services such as; ‘selling, preparing, delivering and servicing cars.’
‘Online and off-line need to be fully and seamlessly integrated,’ added Kerssemakers. ‘Wherever the customer is in their journey – online, in a showroom, in a Volvo Studio, or driving the car – the customer experience needs to be top-notch.’
Purchasing online will come with a care package that includes service, warranty, roadside assistance, as well as insurance (if available) and home-charging options. Care by Volvo, the carmaker’s subscription service will also be expanded into a broader customer offering aimed at increasing overall convenience, likely targeting those consumers who would prefer not to own a BEV outright.
‘To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future – electric and online,’ said chief executive Håkan Samuelsson. ‘We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment.’