Volvo will build new U.S. battery plant to help launch electric XC90

Sven Gustafson

Volvo is building a new battery assembly plant alongside its existing factory in South Carolina to support a line of EVs in the U.S., including a forthcoming all-electric version of the next-generation XC90 crossover, Automotive News reports.

The battery plant is part of an additional $600 million investment Volvo announced in 2017 for its 2.3 million square-foot plant near Charleston, where it currently builds the S60 for global markets and is adding a second line and training facilities. The existing plant will similarly become the global production center for the third-generation XC90. Construction on the new plant, which will test and build battery packs, carriers and harnesses, is expected to start this fall and wrap up in time for the launch of production of the new XC90 starting in 2022, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston. 

The XC90, Volvo’s top-selling model in the U.S. and No. 3 seller globally, will move to a new version of the Scalable Product Architecture platform, or SPA2, for its third generation. The second generation has been around since the 2015 model year and rides on the first version of the SPA platform.

The timeline would make the XC90 Recharge, as its battery-electric cars will be known, Volvo’s third EV, according to its plans to release a fully electric vehicle each year over the next five years. In October, Volvo revealed the XC40 Recharge, its first electric vehicle, due later in 2020. It has two electric motors powered by a 78-kWh battery pack that delivers 248 miles in range on a full charge, based on the more generous European WLTP testing. It’s built on the same modular CMA platform as the gasoline version of the crossover.

That leaves an as-yet unidentified EV for 2021, and there are reportedly no plans to make an electric version of the S60; a Volvo spokesman said he could not comment on other specific models. The new battery plant will help Volvo source its batteries more cheaply than transporting from elsewhere to South Carolina, reports say.

Currently, Volvo offers plug-in hybrid versions of the S90 sedan, XC90 and XC60, plus a B-badged mild hybrid variant of its XC90.

The company has said that every new model introduced after 2019 will be either a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full-electric vehicle, with a new EV launched every year. Each version offered with a plug will come with the “Recharge” model branding.

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