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Moving away from the ICE age

Volvo PHL gets serious with electrification through two BEV models

By Kap Maceda Aguila

SWEDEN-HEADQUARTERED automaker Volvo is an atypical premium brand in that it chooses to fly under the radar. That’s a message we’ve consistently gotten from Volvo Philippines Marketing Director Chris Lee Yu in past conversations.

Still, it might come as a surprise to the average person that Volvo here actually quietly electrified its whole lineup sometime back — completely easing out models running solely on an internal combustion engine (ICE), and supplanting these with hybrid examples. “We introduced our T8 hybrid models in 2019,” shared Mr. Yu with this writer. “We are the first premium brand to launch plug-in electric vehicles in the Philippines, and we fully electrified our lineup last year.”

This ties in with the marque’s commitment to “all-out electrification” back in 2017, made at the United Nations assembly. All cars in Volvo’s portfolio now have an electrified version, and the company has vowed to become a fully electric car company by 2030.

Recently, Volvo Philippines took another crucial step toward its own sustainability aspirations by releasing two SUV battery electric vehicle (BEV) models — so-called “twins” in the Volvo C40 and Volvo XC40, given the “Recharge” appendage to denote full electrification.

“(They) are siblings that carry the trademark Volvo DNA of safety, quality, and sustainability. Yet even identical twins still have different personalities, as does our all-electric duo. One thing for sure is that both Volvos are designed to provide our customers with the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable, and safe way,” said Volvo Philippines President and CEO Atty. Alberto Arcilla in a release.

Both are built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) vehicle platform, and boast an all-wheel-drive, twin-motor powertrain. “I hope you can test-drive them. Just take it easy because they are sporty,” said Volvo Cars Asia-Pacific Head of Operations Keith Schafer, in an exclusive interview with “Velocity.” With a healthy 408hp and 660Nm of torque on tap, the C40 can reportedly accelerate from a standstill to 100kph in 4.7 seconds; the XC40 does the same in 4.9 ticks.

Perhaps more significant for the average buyer are the range claims: 549 kilometers for the C40 and 537 kilometers for the XC40 — and with a quick DC fast-charge capability of a minimum of 27 minutes to get from 10% to 80% level.

The sleeker, smaller C40 is priced at P3.99 million and bears a fastback design to differentiate it from its sibling. The rear cargo hold is marginally smaller as well. Volvo said that the new front fascia is unique to electric Volvos and “includes headlights with state-of-the-art pixel technology.” The front bumper and a frameless grille further connect the C40 and XC40 (P4.19 million).

A planet-friendly thrust extends to cruelty-free accoutrements such as leather-free upholstery interiors in both models. Other features include a panoramic sunroof, advanced air purifier system (said to filter up to 80% of PM2.5 particles), and “smart cabin solutions,” among others. As Volvo has traditionally been known for safety, the two are equipped with the brand’s suite of advanced driver technology features.

When asked about the timing of the EV introductions, Mr. Schafer told “Velocity,” “We are launching these cars all over Southeast Asia, but we also need to have the infrastructure ready, right? We needed to have our dealers ready, we needed to have service ready. And this took some time for us.”

He continued, “When we do something at Volvo, sometimes it takes a little bit longer but we are very careful with the quality. It needs to feel good. Now we’re going to accelerate and we see huge opportunities in the Philippines for this. This is only the first two cars coming out. And as I said in the speech, we have more cars to come.”

As with other industry players, Volvo had been negatively impacted by semiconductor and parts supply issues as a result of the pandemic, but the executive asserted that “the situation looks much better.” C40 and XC40 units will be sourced from Volvo’s production lines in Malaysia, and Mr. Schafer promised “a stable supply.” He added, “The Philippines is a very important market for us.”

The two BEVs will come with a Volvo Ownership Package that includes an eight-year battery warranty, five years of free roadside assistance, a three-year comprehensive car warranty, a Wall Box charger, and unlimited digital update service.