Almost every traditional automaker is moving toward electric powertrains. Volvo has been one of the trailblazers, pushing new EVs to market under both its own name and its new Polestar performance brand. However, disappointing news from the EPA in regards to two of the companies' new 2021 models could deal a blow to those ambitions.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge pictured above is the Swedish brand’s attempt to build the affordable compact crossover EV buyers want, one competing with the likes of the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Nissan Ariya. Somewhat disappointingly, however, the XC40 EV achieved just a 208-mile range in EPA testing — 83 miles less than the short-range Tesla Model Y. That low range comes despite the XC40 packing a substantial 78-kWh battery pack.
Volvo also received disappointing news about the XC40 Recharge’s platform-mate, the Polestar 2. The normcore electric performance sedan only earned 233 miles of range in EPA testing, much lower than the brand's target of 275 miles. That range is 66 miles below a comparable all-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3.
Low range estimates are not a mortal blow. Most suburban EV buyers will drive nowhere near 200 miles in a day and recharge on a home charger at night. It’s also possible that, like the Porsche Taycan, the EPA test may underestimate the real-world range figures for the XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2. And third-party testing has generally shown that Tesla's apparent range advantage is much smaller in real life than it appears in EPA testing.
But other than cost, range is perhaps the most significant anxiety for buyers converting to EVs. And EV buyers will soon be flush with comparable electric options offering more range. These range numbers may not be low enough to put off the Volvo buyer who happens to want an EV...but it will make it harder to attract other EV converts away from a Tesla showroom.