Volvo is getting very serious about electric power, and has announced big changes to its model lineup.
The Swedish automaker will start by developing plug-in hybrid versions of each of its models, and will eventually add a completely new range of electric vehicles, including a Tesla Model S competitor.
This heavy investment in hybrid and electric vehicles will account for 10 percent of Volvo’s vehicle sales before the end of the decade, by Volvo’s estimates. The 2016 Volvo XC90 is the first of the new plug-in hybrids and the S90 flagship sedan will follow. The brand’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) will underpin the next generation S60 sedan and will lead to a plug-in hybrid version as well.
“We believe that the time has come for electrified cars to cease being a niche technology and enter the mainstream,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars.
Volvo also announced a new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that will underpin several new compact models, all designed with hybrid or electric power in mind. Volvo says the CMA and SPA platforms were developed simultaneously, both in an effort to be as adaptable as possible. By doing so, Volvo will be able to design and build a variety of vehicle sizes and body styles without having to develop unique underpinnings each time. Considering Volvo doesn’t have the capital or other resources of much larger automakers, scalable platforms will help it compete without being forced to secure more funding.
Volvo hasn’t yet announced which models will use CMA, but a replacement for the current V40 hatchback is a fair bet. It’s been a while since there was a Volvo-badged compact sold in the U.S. but with new entries from automakers like Infiniti’s Q30 and Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class (which will be ported from Europe), Volvo might accelerate plans to re-introduce a compact here.