By on September 25, 2019

Volvo, the brand TTAC commenters can’t get enough of (when they’re not talking Infiniti), will soon enter a fledgling segment no automaker seems capable of steering clear of: electric vehicles.

The new model, due for an October unveiling, won’t be an unfamiliar, futuristic blob that leaves viewers feeling cold and scared. Like many of its rivals, Volvo has opted to fully electrify an existing model. And what model has a longer-term viability than a compact crossover?

With its electric XC40, Volvo has a vehicle able to adopt a variety of propulsion sources. Its modular CMA platform, shared with parent company Geely, was designed with this in mind. It was also designed to handle the conversion with an extra measure of safety.

“To help keep passengers safe and the battery intact in the event of a collision, Volvo Cars also developed a new and unique safety structure for passengers and battery alike in the XC40,” the automaker said in a release. “The battery is protected by a safety cage which consists of a frame of extruded aluminum and has been embedded in the middle of the car’s body structure, creating a built-in crumple zone around the battery.”

The folks at Volvo Cars admitted they faced “a fresh set of challenges presented by the absence of an internal combustion engine.” In response, engineers redesigned and beefed up the vehicle’s frontal structure to compensate for the vanished ICE. The rear structure also saw upgrades. In a schematic released by the automaker, we see an underfloor battery pack that’s more than just a big rectangle, with two electric motors (placed front and rear) doling out propulsion to both axles.

“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,” said Volvo Cars safety chief Malin Ekholm in a statement. Ekholm added that he expects the electric XC40 to be “one of the safest” Volvos ever built, which is a high bar to clear.

When it appears on October 16th, the XC40 EV will debut another new technology for the company: Volvo’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) sensor platform. The suite of driver-assist features provided by the combination of radars, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors is a starting point; Volvo claims it lays the groundwork for a fully autonomous driving system.

As for power and range, Volvo’s not concerned with releasing those details at the moment. Having pledged to bring passenger fatalities to zero, safety remains the brand’s top priority, though these attributes can’t be ignored. The company’s products do not exist in a vacuum. We’ll have to wait and see whether the XC40 EV can match or best the 258 miles of range offered by the Hyundai Kona Electric.

[Images: Volvo]

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