It’s tough being a hatchback, eh? One day you’re soup du jour, the next you’re being shunned in favor of fancy new SUV-shaped things. If this troubles you as much as us, please direct your anger toward Volvo, which is planning to replace the V40 hatchback with something a little more of the moment...a little more BMW X2, to complement the X1-rivaling XC40. Still with us? Excellent.
“We won’t do a one-to-one replacement for the V40—we need to be more creative than that,” Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo’s senior vice president, tells us. “Do not underestimate how appealing a high seating position is to customers.”
But there is another, more pressing reason high-riding cars make sense right now. “You can’t launch a new car now that’s not EV-ready,” says Kerssemakers. “With a low-riding car like a hatchback, the question is where do you put the batteries? You can’t add to the length or the width or you start bumping into the segment above, so if you put them under the floor, you quickly end up with something raised like an SUV.”
To be fair, Volvo is on a fine run of design form, so if anyone can make a coupe-roofed compact SUV look half-decent, it’s the Swedish carmaker. It set a global sales record in 2018 with 642,253 units
Equally punchy is Volvo’s target of pure electric cars making up 50% of its total sales by 2025; the other 50% will be four-cylinder gasoline and diesel hybrids. That’s just six short years from now, barely a life cycle, and the company doesn’t have a single electric car on sale yet. We’ll see sister brand Polestar’s first pure electric car, the Tesla Model 3-rivaling Polestar 2, later this year. It will help, but Kerssemakers is talking about electrifying the entire Volvo range here. No mean feat.
“Yes, every replacement new car we bring from now will get a pure electric version, starting with the XC40, then the XC90 and so on,” he confirms. “We won’t give them any special branding. We don’t need to—customers simply choose the body style they like, then the powertrain is the second decision.”
Volvo’s core philosophies might be safety and Swedish minimalism, but between its on-point design department, pioneering subscription-style buying models, and aggressive electrification of its range, this is a company that’s going places and leaving other premium brands in its wake. What do you think, Internet? Are Volvos cool yet, or still the car your dad would drive?
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.