Volvo XC20 is back on the table as small premium SUVs trend [Update]

News of the Volvo XC20 has been making the rounds since 2017 when one Volvo officer remarked that if a smaller range is approved, it could make a 20 Series. The XC20 was back in the news in 2020, and this time it could be a reality with the help of an architecture developed by Geely.

In 2019, there were reports of a smaller SUV (below the XC40) in the works to mark the first model of the Volvo 20 series. While the XC90, XC60, and XC40 have proven quite successful, Volvo is now looking to introduce a B-segment SUV, focusing on global markets and meeting its daunting electrification targets. The German rivals are building up no less than 6 new crossover-SUV models each by mid-decade; Volvo has 3, with sedans and station wagon styles that are not in vogue. It used to be active in the entry segment with the V40 Cross Country, a pseudo-SUV based on a Ford-developed platform, but the V40 Series was discontinued in 2019.

Mid-decade Volvo Electric car portfolio likely showing Volvo XC20
Volvo plans to offer 7 electric cars (BEVs) by around 2025, and the smallest member (represented by the car in the middle of the second row) would be the Volvo XC20. Image: Volvo Cars

Volvo XC20 Design

Volvo officials have time and again suggested that the company is exploring new body styles and wants to make EVs that are not conventional sedans, wagons, or SUVs. Hakan Samuelsson, President, and CEO, Volvo Car Group, said at the company’s half-year 2021 financial results presentation that EVs need to be more aerodynamic and future Volvo EVs could surprise customers with their offbeat design. The Volvo Recharge Concept that debuted this year was a preview of the new design approach.

Electrification will also change the shape of the cars; they need to be more aerodynamic, so maybe we will surprise people a bit there in the future. It’s not just the conventional cars as we have had so far.

Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (Volvo Car Group half-year financial results, 2021)
Volvo Concept Recharge side
Expect the styling of the baby Volvo SUV to be inspired by the Concept Recharge (pictured). A streamlined body will improve aero and maximize travel range. Image: Volvo Cars

While previewing the C40 back in March 2021, Samuelson provided an insight into some of the details of the small SUV. He confirmed that the so-called Volvo XC20 Recharge would have a more streamlined design for its exterior and be a high-riding vehicle with an elevated seating position for the front seats. Compared to the upright design of the current crop of SUVs from Volvo, the new XC20 Recharge will have a more aerodynamic and softer roofline.

Coming to the inside, the new Volvo XC20 Recharge is expected to make use of recycled and sustainably developed materials. Apart from a possible 12.3-inch digital instrument console, the cabin will come with an Android-based touchscreen infotainment system with all essential Google services and apps pre-installed.

Platform & powertrain

The Volvo XC20 Recharge will use Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), which the Chinese parent unveiled in September 2020. It is a dedicated architecture for aluminum-intensive EVs and can support small and large vehicles, including SUVs, sedans, vans, and pickups. It has the capability for intelligent car technologies like connectivity and autonomous driving.

Geely SEA platform
Volvo will capitalize Geely’s SEA vehicle architecture to introduce the XC20 that would be a crossover designed for the urban grind. The city hopper could fill the shoes of the V40 Cross Country. Image: Zhejiang Geely Holding Group

SEA is designed to use a battery with a targeted lifespan of 2 million km manufactured by Chinese maker CATL. From the Zeekr 001, we get what the SEA platform is capable of delivering. The Zeekr 001, the first model riding on this platform targeted at the mass market, boasts two motors with 400 kW and 768 Nm output, a 3.8-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time, and a 200+ km/h top speed. A 100 kWh battery pack provides a range of 712 km (442 miles). With rapid charging at 360 kW, it’s possible to achieve a 120 km (NEDC) range with just five minutes of charging.

According to a report from evlook.com, the baby Volvo (codename: Volvo V216) will ride on a ‘PMA-2’ platform, which could be a different version of the PMA platform (another name for the SEA) that will underpin the Polestar 4 D-segment SUV. This report says that the XC20 will be an FWD model with a single motor powering its wheels. Most customers should use it in an urban environment, so a high-performance dual-motor powertrain might not be required for the entry-level model. 

Volvo will approach L4 autonomous driving with the larger SPA2 platform models starting with the new electric SUV based on the Recharge Concept. Still, it remains to be seen what the automated driving strategy is for smaller cars like the XC20.

Range

The Volvo XC20 Recharge could be conservative as it targets city car users who travel shorter distances at low average speeds. The XC20 may settle for a cost- and efficiency-focused smaller battery pack, possibly a 45-50 kWh unit that gives a range of around 300 km or 186 miles (WLTP). It will leave the competition with sleepless nights if Volvo can guarantee 200,000 km of degradation-free operation and a design life of 2 million km. That would sound reassuring to customers, especially those upgrading from the Hyundai Kona EV or Hyundai Ioniq electric models that made headlines for battery issues.

Volvo XC20 release date

The XC20 Recharge or whatever Volvo Cars finally decides to name the small electric SUV positioned below the XC40 Recharge will likely go on sale in 2023. Like the C40, the new XC20 Recharge will also be an online-only model – while physical test drives and inspection will be available at dealerships, orders will be made only online.

Samuelsson hinted at this launch timeline at the Volvo Car Group half-year 2021 financial results presentation. He said that the company plans to launch this model after the Volvo Recharge Concept (2022 launch), and it will most likely build the small EV in China. Tenders related to the production of the Volvo V216 are floating in the market now, suggests the evlook.com report.

Regarding timing, we’ve said the next new electric car is really the successor of our SUV flagship. That’s the first one; after that, there will be a smaller SUV, and that’s what we’re talking about here. It’s very likely it will be made in China, yes.

Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group (Volvo Car Group half-year financial results, 2021)

SUVs dominate Volvo’s global car sales

Samuelsson told Automotive News Europe last December that 75 percent of Volvo sales would be derived from SUVs. In 2020, Volvo SUVs took more than 70 percent of the pie. He conceded that Volvo could strike the right cost structure only through a platform partnership and that the brand sees a trend emerging towards small premium SUVs.

The Volvo XC20 would first help Volvo’s goal of generating 50 percent of its global sales from fully electric cars by 2025, and no doubt this would be great for conquest sales. By 2030, the company aims to make its entire line-up fully electric.

Volvo XC20 FAQs

What is the Volvo XC20 release date?

Volvo has hinted that the XC20 will arrive in 2023, following the flagship Recharge SUV. Note that the urban SUV may use a different name.

What will be the Volvo XC20 price?

The all-electric Volvo XC20 Recharge could cost around €40,000 onwards.

What are the potential competitors of the XC20?

Upcoming compact electric crossovers from MINI, Smart & the smaller VW ID cars could be its challengers.

Featured Image: Łukasz Myszyński’s Volvo XC-X concept via Behance