When folks think about Volvo, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the brand’s reputation for safety features. After all, it developed and patented the modern three-point seat belt in 1959 and then shared the design with the world. Inexpensive cars, not so much.
However, Volvo is making a statement with its newest EV, the EX30. This super-modern compact electric SUV is packaged competitively at $36,145 to start; that’s more than the outgoing Chevrolet Bolt but less than Tesla’s least expensive EV, the Model 3. Sure, the base Nissan Leaf is still priced under $30,000, but that’s with the smaller battery pack and only 149 miles of all-electric range. The EX30 promises a more luxurious feel than Nissan’s EV and offers a huge difference in range, at 275 miles.
Can Volvo’s streamlined five-seat EV compete? If we shake the Magic 8-Ball, all signs point to yes. Here’s why.
As Inside EVs reported in March, Volvo set a record for sales in February, moving 51,286 cars worldwide that month. That’s 22 percent more than February 2022 and the best February ever for the brand. Even more telling is its numbers in the plug-in electric car segment: Volvo sold 20,678 plug-ins, an impressive 40 percent of total volume.
The timing seems to be spot on. In April of this year, Chevrolet sounded the death knell of its diminutive Bolt EV with no room for resurrection. Like the college kid who comes home for Christmas to find out his parents turned his bedroom into a supersized home gym, GM will soon retool the production line for the Bolt models to make space for the much-larger electric Silverado pickup and its sibling, the GMC Sierra EV. The introduction of electric trucks is important to the US market, and Chevy is pouring its resources in that direction, pushing the smaller Bolt out even as the tiny EV’s sales started to peak.
Now, the Bolt is kaput. Enter, stage right: the Volvo EX30, which is the fourth EV model for the Swedish brand. Volvo debuted its XC40 Recharge EV for model year 2021, the C40 Recharge EV for 2022, and a three-row SUV (the EX90) is on the way. Volvo, it seems, is ramping up for EVs quickly and steadily.
Can the EX30 outsell Tesla? Reply hazy, try again
The EX30 is about three inches longer and three inches wider than the Bolt EV, giving the Volvo a more commanding presence on the road than its Chevy competitor. Volvo’s new EV is 18 inches shorter than Tesla’s Model 3, but it wins in the cargo category with 31.9 cubic feet of available space, significantly more than the Model 3’s 22.9 cubic feet (truck and front trunk).
From a power perspective, the EX30 comes with a 268-hp rear-drive setup; a 428-hp all-wheel-drive upgrade is available. Compared to the Bolt, which was good for 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, the EX30 is considerably peppier, and Volvo says its Twin Motor Performance model will sprint to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in a zippy 3.6 seconds. That’s only a tiny bit slower—0.1 seconds—than the Model 3 Performance.
Here’s where the EX30 shines over both Tesla and Chevy’s EVs: the inside. Volvo prides itself on simple but luxurious interiors and the EX30 makes the most of its space and price point with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a full-width sound bar on the dashboard that replaces embedded speakers, and recycled materials throughout.
Getting more Americans to snap up electric vehicles and reap their environmental benefits means automakers need to produce affordable ones that are accessible to more people. Right now, the EX30’s price tag will make it one of the least expensive on the US market. One forthcoming bit of competition, besides from Nissan and Tesla, may come in the form of the Chevy Equinox EV, which will likely cost around $30,000, and Chevrolet says its range will reach the desired 300-mile mark.
Every time a new EV hits the market, headlines proclaim “it’s a Tesla killer” and no doubt some will believe that’s true of the EX30 as well. The reality is that Tesla’s legions of fans aren’t going anywhere, and are unlikely to be swayed to the Swedish side. Volvo will likely catch the attention of new EV buyers looking for a solidly built car stocked with technology and safety features in a small luxury package.