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Volvo to shake up car nomenclature starting with new EV flagship

Volvo will change the way it names its cars starting a new full-electric flagship that will debut next year.

Instead of carrying over the XC90 moniker, Volvo will deviate from using letter and number combinations for its Tesla Model X rival.

“This car will have a name, more like a [newborn] child,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said during a presentation of the company’s EV-centric future on Wednesday.

Volvo wants half of its global sales — an estimated 600,000 — to be full-electric vehicles by 2025 and to be an electric-only brand by 2030.

Samuelsson said Volvo wants to premiere a new name for the model because the crossover will:

  • Debut a new platform
  • Only be sold online
  • Offer lidar as standard to improve safety
  • Eventually offer unsupervised driving in so-called Ride Model in locations where legislation allows the car’s technology to take control
  • Offer bidirectional charging so customer can feed electricity back to the grid in locations where that is possible.

“Calling that just a new XC90 would be wrong because this is the really a first of its kind,” Samuelsson told Automotive News Europe.

The new car will also showcase a sleeker exterior and more spacious interior previewed by the Concept Recharge that Volvo debuted on Wednesday.

The prototype’s grille has a shield-like structure as well as a new interpretation of Volvo’s Thor’s Hammer headlight design.

The stars of the uncluttered interior are a 15-inch touchscreen and a floating screen behind the steering wheel that will use Volvo’s newly developed operating system. Volvo EVs will also have a centralized computing platform.

When asked how much of the Concept Recharge’s design language would be transferred to the new crossover Samuelsson was cautious: “Some ideas normally move up. I won’t say more.”

Volvo plans to reveal the car’s name when it debuts the production version of the crossover in 2022. Deliveries of the EV, which will be built at the automaker’s U.S. factory in South Carolina, will start in 2023.

Samuelsson said Volvo’s new nomenclature will be extended to its the forthcoming wave of new EVs underpinned by the second-generation of its Scalable Platform Architecture, SPA2, and to a small electric crossover that will use the Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) the Swedish automaker helped parent Zhejiang Geely Holding develop.

Volvo began launching one electric car each year starting in 2020 with the XC40 Recharge. The C40 was the automaker’s 2021 debut followed by the flagship crossover due next year. Volvo hasn’t said which EVs are planned for 2023-25, although the small model should be in the mix along with a premium midsize SUV to succeed its No. 2-seller globally, the XC60..

Meanwhile, Volvo confirmed there will not be a third-generation XC90 with a combustion engine or plug-in hybrid powertrain, but the current generations of each may see updates.