We were surprised when Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Car USA, said that the Swedish automaker is aggressively pushing for its first long-range electric car to start between $35,000 and $40,000.
We now get more insights into how they could achieve that from a report stating that they plan to build the car in China and export it globally.
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Most major automakers have already established manufacturing capabilities in China, but the local production is to satisfy local demand and rarely involves significant exports.
It will be different for Volvo’s first EV according to sources talking to Automotive News Europe ahead of an official announcement planned for the Shanghai auto show next week:
“The electric car will be made at Volvo’s plant in Luqiao, southeast China, alongside CMA-based models such as the all-new XC40 compact SUV, which launches later this year, and Lynk & CO’s first model, the 01 crossover.”
The vehicle is expected to be exported globally and enter production in 2019, which is in line with what Kerssemakers said in the past.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who has been following Volvo’s evolution since its acquisition by China’s Geely.
After using some of the automaker’s engineering and manufacturing talent to set up Chinese operations, the company launched a new global brand, Lynk & Co, to produce hybrid and electric vehicles using Volvo’s own Compact Modular Architecture.
Lynk & Co’s EVs were expected to be built in China and exported globally, but unless Automotive News’s report is confusing the two brands, Volvo-branded electric cars will also follow the same model. It’s something the company started last year with the gas-powered S60.
Kerssemakers said that the first electric vehicle would have a range of “at least 250 miles”, which would make it extremely competitive with the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt EV if they can truly achieve a $35,000 to $40,000 base price.
The all-electric model is still not confirmed, but it is expected to be based one of the two new concepts Volvo unveiled last year – SUV pictured above and a sedan.
The move to build the car in China and export it globally highlights the country’s clear ambitions to take the opportunity created by the electric vehicle disruption in the auto industry to become a bigger global player. It first manifested itself through large Chinese investments in EV startups in the US, like Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, NIO, and others, but Volvo now seems at the forefront of it.