Volvo juices EV push with C40 Recharge

The Belgium-built C40 is the first Volvo designed without a conventional grille and introduces a new front fascia design that includes headlights with pixel technology.

Volvo Chief Technology Officer Henrik Green said the headlights operate like a movie projector.

“They are not just one single light source, you can actually dim specific pixels,” Green said. “That means in oncoming traffic you can automatically dim the lights to avoid blinding other drivers.”

The rear of the C40 features a reworked taillight design to go with the lower roofline. The C40 is the first Volvo model to be leather-free.

While the C40 shares a platform with the XC40 Recharge, the two vehicles are targeted at different markets, Volvo Retail Advisory Board Chairman Ernie Norcross told Automotive News.

The C40 is billed as a conquest vehicle aimed at millennials. It targets the “consumer who wants a sedan feel but also wants utility,” Norcross said.

Green described the C40 as a “me” car.

“It still captures a lot of the practicality from the XC40 but it’s more of an individualistic car than a practical family car,” he said.

But, the appetite for a 200-mile compact EV in the U.S. is limited, likely making the C40 a niche model here. Volvo anticipates selling about 8,000 a year, dealers were told last year.

Volvo is probably aiming for the China market, which is more price-sensitive and willing to adopt shorter-range EVs, Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid said.

But with homologation costs for an EV being “significantly less” than for an internal combustion engine vehicle, Volvo likely sees the U.S. as providing incremental volume, Abuelsamid said.