[INTERVIEW] Volvo Cars works toward carbon neutrality with fully electric EX90
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Volvo Cars’ EX90 will be introduced to the Korean market in the second half of 2024, according to Volvo Cars CEO Jim Rowan.
And Korea will be the first Asian country to have the pure electric vehicle.
“We have great demand for the car already, even in Korea, which is fantastic,” said Rowan during an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 5 at the automaker’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.
“I expect the second half of 2024 for the car to be introduced in Korea,” he added. “But Korea is a very good market for Volvo; we will do our best to get it [there] as soon as possible.”
The EX90 is Volvo’s entirely new electric SUV and the successor to the current XC90. It had its world premiere in Stockholm in November, and Volvo is expected to start mass production in 2023 at its factory in Charleston, South Carolina.
The EV is the first model to be introduced after the Swedish brand announced its goal for carbon neutrality by 2040. Volvo Cars aims to shift 50 percent of its models to fully electric and another half to hybrid models by the end of 2025. Starting in 2030, all Volvo vehicles will be pure electric.
It said it will release a new EV model every year through 2030, and the EX90 is the first such fruit of this endeavor.
The EX90 will also be the first vehicle to come with a LiDAR sensor, made to improve the car’s safety. LiDAR sensors, which Volvo describes as the “car’s eyes,” is a remote sensing system that uses a pulsed laser to accurately detect objects.
It will be able to detect pedestrians up to 250 meters (820 feet) away, night or day.
“Volvo never compromises with safety issue,” said Bjorn Annwall, chief commercial officer at Volvo Cars. “LiDAR will be the next game changer in the safety aspect.”
“It sees in the dark, and it sees in dust,” Annwall added. “The system will likely reduce the occurrence of accidents by approximately 10 percent, while the possibility of getting serious injuries by 19 percent.”
Annwall said Volvo always closely cooperates with the Swedish government to continually make its vehicles more safe.
“The cooperation starts from designing the vehicle,” Annwall said.
Coming with a 111-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, the EX90 will be able to run 600 kilometers (370 miles) per single charge, according to WLTP standards.
When asked about how the company has been responding to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, CEO Rowan said Volvo Cars is already well positioned and well prepared.
“We have many manufacturing facilities in various countries; United States, Europe and China,” Rowan said.
Volvo operates a plant in Sweden, one in the United States, one in Belgium and three in China.
The carmaker has also been making massive investments toward building a stable supply chain.
It is building a $3-billion joint battery plant in Gothenburg with Stockholm-based Northvolt. In the plant, the company will produce a total of 50 gigawatt-hour batteries every year, which is enough to be used in 500,000 EVs.
The construction is expected to finish in late 2025.
“We build where we source, and source where we build,” said Javier Varela, chief operating officer. “Based on this goal, we are focusing on the localization of the materials.”
When asked about the possibility of establishing a joint battery plant with Korean battery makers, he said they are in discussion but that “there is nothing to comment on the matter at the time.”
Volvo Cars sold 15,056 vehicles in Korea in 2021, becoming the No. 5 imported brand in terms of units sold. It is the first time the company beat Volkswagen since it started selling cars in Korea 33 years ago.
Korea was the 11th biggest market for Volvo last year, but the company said it will move up to ninth this year, and second in the Asian market after China.
BY SARAH CHEA [email@example.com]