Volvo XC40 electric: more details revealed

New, electric Volvo XC40 SUV to feature Android infotainment system co-developed with Google

The new electric Volvo XC40 – due to be revealed on 16 October – will be the first car to feature an Android-based infotainment system, the Swedish carmaker has claimed.

The system will use technology and services developed by Google, with the aim of “reducing driver distraction” and offering “improved levels of intuitiveness”.

Google Assistant will provide voice control with which to operate the sat nav, temperature control and in-car media, while Google Maps will use real-time traffic data to avoid congestion. Additional apps will be available to download through the Google Play Store.

“We are finally giving you the same experience in your car that you’re used to on your phone, but adapted for safe interaction while driving,” said Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer.

“And by introducing over-the-air updates for everything from maintenance to completely new features, the car can stay as fresh as your other digital products, always with the latest and greatest features.”

Meanwhile, the company says its new infotainment system will integrate its Volvo On Call platform, which allows drivers to monitor charging sessions remotely, as well as preheat their cars before journeys.

When the electric XC40 goes on sale, buyers will get a choice of eight exterior colour options, with a black contrasting roof sold as standard. 19 and 20-inch alloy wheels are also available.

Robin Page, Volvo’s head of design, says the electric XC40 will be “even sleeker”, with a new, closed-off grille giving the car a “cleaner and more modern face”. Page added: “This is the approach we will explore more and more as we continue down the road of electrification.”

Inside, a new driver interface displays the battery status and remaining range, with sporty design details and carpets made from recycled materials among the promised interior changes.

Volvo says the car’s layout will allow it to introduce more storage space in the doors and under the seats, while a fold-out hook for bags and a removable waste bin will also be included. With the internal combustion engine making way for an electric motor, a 30-litre storage compartment – sometimes referred to as a ‘frunk’ – will be introduced under the bonnet.

No range or performance figures have been given, although the digital images released by Volvo suggest the car will use a pair of electric motors to deliver four-wheel drive.

A CCS port is also visible above the rear wheel, pointing towards DC rapid-charging capability and, by extension, the Type 2 AC charging offered by home wallbox charging units.

Meanwhile, Volvo’s head of safety Malin Ekholm says the electric XC40 will be “one of the safest cars we have ever built. The fundamentals around safety are the same for this car as for any other Volvo. People are inside, and the car needs to be designed to be safe for them.”

To that end, Volvo has completely redesigned the front end of the XC40 to cope with the absence of an internal-combustion engine. Elsewhere, the manufacturer has devised an aluminium cage to protect the car’s battery in the event of a collision. This helps create a crumple zone around the cells, which – as is normal in an electric car – are located under the floor.

Volvo says this has the added benefit of reducing the risk of the vehicle rolling over in an accident. The back of the electric XC40 has been reinforced, too: the company says that the “electric powertrain has been integrated with the body structure” to help direct collision forces away from the cabin and any passengers inside.

New active safety technology is also promised, with the electric XC40 set to be the first Volvo to benefit from the firm’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) package.

It features several radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors, which Volvo claims will "lay the foundation for the future introduction of autonomous drive technology".

More details about the electric XC40 will be announced in the coming weeks. Last month, Volvo added a plug-in hybrid version of its smallest SUV to its line-up.