New 2022 Volvo XC90 due next year with EV version

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99 volvo xc90 render by autocar

Reinvention of flagship Volvo is set to define the maker’s future ethos.

Volvo’s third electric car will be the unconventionally shaped successor to the hugely popular XC90 SUV – and it will set the tone for a whole family of new EVs from the Swedish manufacturer.

Due in 2022 as a production-ready version of the bold Concept Recharge shown earlier this year, the new arrival will provide Volvo with a long-awaited entry into the increasingly important full-sized electric SUV segment, into which most premium-oriented manufacturers have launched their debut EVs in recent years. Volvo’s existing pure EVs, the XC40 Recharge and coupe-backed C40 Recharge, sit a segment lower and use the same CMA platform as the conventionally fuelled XC40.

Meanwhile, the XC90 successor, which will be given a name rather than a number in production form, will use Volvo’s new SPA2 platform. This evolved version of the current car’s architecture will accommodate a choice of combustion and pure-electric powertrains. It will be the first production car to use the new underpinnings before they are rolled out to other Volvo models and sibling brands owned by parent company Geely Auto. As part of a new platform-sharing agreement, Geely will in turn offer Volvo access to its latest SEA architecture.

The Concept Recharge heavily hinted at how Volvo will ensure its new flagship EV retains the XC90’s core characteristics while ushering in a totally new approach to exterior and cabin design, as well as a host of advanced new technologies. So although the XC90 successor will adopt a radically different design, it will continue to major on space and practicality. The ‘less is more’ approach exhibited by the concept points to an enhanced focus on minimalistic design in Volvo’s new electric era, as well as a drive to minimise the well-to-wheel environmental impact of each vehicle it produces.

98 volvo

Unlike the vast majority of mixed-powertrain platforms currently on the market, the SPA2 will be offered in two distinct forms. This will allow the electric XC90 successor to benefit from a completely flat floor, shortened overhangs and a more overtly cabforward stance, whereas the combustion-engined versions will have slightly more familiar interior proportions, given the need to accommodate an engine, transmission and exhaust system.

Some of the concept’s more outlandish and futuristic cues will be toned down for production – the four free-standing seats, for example. However, the skateboard-style architecture will offer new levels of interior space and flexibility, which concept designer Robin Page likened to a “Scandinavian living room feeling”. To that end, the production car will ditch physical controls for a cleaner and simpler driver environment. Most of the functions will be controlled through a large-format central touchscreen using operating software developed by Google – as first adopted by the XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2.

However, Volvo’s next SUV will not be so easily categorised as an SUV because, although it sits high off the ground and emphasises all-round visibility like the current car, it has a straighter-edged two-box silhouette reminiscent of wagons such as the 240, 940 and V70, which once ranked among the Swedish marque’s most important and best-selling models. Company boss Håkan Samuelsson recently told us that Volvo will gradually downsize its conventional estate offering – currently comprising various forms of the V60 and V90 – in recognition of the simple fact that “people really are fond of high seating positions”.

The XC90 successor will therefore straddle the boundary between two segments to capitalise on the popularity of SUVs while differentiating itself from rivals and avoiding alienating buyers of lower-slung models. Page called it “a new type of vehicle”, which “displays new and modern proportions that go hand in hand with increased versatility” – hinting at the potential for other Volvo models to follow suit in blending design cues from different segments.

Volvo remains guarded about details of the new car’s powertrain offering, but the firm’s well-publicised push to reduce emissions across its line-up means all combustion variants will feature some form of electrification, be they mild hybrids or plug-in hybrids. Diesel will not be offered at all. It remains an option on certain Volvo models but will be phased out entirely as the brand’s line-up is refreshed.

The electric variant, meanwhile, could usher in entirely new powertrain setups distinct from those offered on the CMA-based XC40, C40 and Polestar 2 EVs, while four-wheel drive is highly likely to be standard, given its large SUV billing. Volvo will offer a choice of battery sizes on its new EVs, giving buyers the option of standard and long-range versions, the latter capable of travelling up to 500km between charges.

Felix Page

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