The Volvo Concept Recharge Is Rewriting The Brand’s EV Rulebook: News

New styling, new tech and much better batteries are on the agenda

The Volvo Concept Recharge Is Rewriting The Brand's EV Rulebook: News
Volvo plans to lean hard into electrification, with its lineup going completely zero-emissions by 2030. (Images: Volvo)

Volvo unleashed a tsunami of new information on its EV plans Wednesday.

In no fewer than six official statements, Volvo laid out where it’s headed over the next decade, including its plans to improve its battery technology, driver assistance systems and — as you’d expect — launch new models. While most automakers still aim to keep internal combustion alive for a couple decades yet, Volvo wants 100% of its sales to be electric by 2030. To achieve that goal, the company knows it will have to think on new levels, and that’s where the Concept Recharge comes in.

Volvo says the move toward complete electrification “represents a new paradigm in car design” and that this concept “is a manifesto for the next generation of all-electric Volvos.” Some familiar elements remain, from the “Thor’s Hammer” headlights to the diagonal cut into the faux-grille, complete with the corporate logo. Unlike the XC40 Recharge and its plug-in models, we’re obviously talking about a new model that’s been designed as an EV from the start. The automaker didn’t include technical information at this point (we’ll have to wait awhile for that), but there is plenty to talk about on the tech front.

New infotainment approach, lidar and battery improvements

See that bubble atop the Concept Recharge’s roof? That’s a new lidar sensor built by Luminar that will come standard on future Volvo EV models. That system will work in tandem with cameras, radar and real-time data as well as machine learning capability to provide the next level of semi-autonomous capability. Making its way into its next-gen XC90 successor, the technology will have backup systems for steering and braking that will make it hardware-ready for “safe, unsupervised autonomous driving” once it’s available and when conditions permit. Volvo says its system will also incorporate artificial intelligence, which the automaker can improve over time through over-the-air software updates.

The Volvo Concept Recharge Is Rewriting The Brand's EV Rulebook: News
Volvo demonstrates how its sensors will work and their field of view around its upcoming XC90 successor.

The Concept Recharge shows a new approach to infotainment, moving away from its aging system toward a setup similar to what you’d find in a modern Tesla or the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The single 15-inch display juts out from the center stack, with no physical buttons to speak of. Also like the Mach-E, the driver will get a small widescreen display replacing the traditional instrument cluster.

While it didn’t mention powertrains, Volvo did shed more light into improving its battery technology. The automaker aims to break the 1,000 Watt-hours per liter capacity — a density on par with solid-state batteries. By doing that, hopefully 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of range or beyond will be within reach. An 800-volt electrical architecture is also on the docket, as is two-way charging capability so Volvo’s vehicles can also supply power to your house.

Next-gen Volvo EV coming soon

We’ll know more about how a next-gen Volvo EV will shake out in practice next year, as it reveals its XC90 follow-up. The Polestar 3 SUV is also on the way, which may contain some of the technology the automaker laid out in its statements. Volvo’s South Carolina plant will transition to purely building electric vehicles, and it will be the first to produce next-generation cars derived from cars like the Concept Recharge.