Volvo's first EV will be cheaper than you might think

Its starting price would put it up against the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the forthcoming Tesla Model 3.

Finding the key to breaking into the US market is not easy, but Volvo Car USA CEO Lex Kerssemakers thinks he can jimmy that lock open.

Volvo will release its first battery-electric car in 2019, Automotive News reports, citing a conversation with Kerssemakers. The range is expected to hover around 250 miles, and it should carry a price tag between $35,000 and $40,000.

"If I want to make a point in the United States, if I want to make volumes, that's what I believe I need," Kerssemakers said in regard to Volvo's forthcoming EV.

The smaller the vehicle, the easier it will be for Volvo to achieve its 250-mile range target.

Volvo

It's not yet clear exactly how the EV will appear, but Volvo has two different platforms it can take advantage of. The larger SPA platform is used for the new XC90, V90, S90 and XC60. It will also likely underpin a future S60 and maybe a V60, too. The smaller CMA platform will first appear with the XC40 compact crossover next year, which is also an option.

Volvo is also mulling whether or not to build its EV as a standalone model, or to offer it as a trim level for one of its existing nameplates.

Price and range are two vital components to breaking into the US EV market. Both are necessary, too -- Tesla's market share is currently limited by its vehicles' high prices, despite a range that now eclipses 300 miles. Smaller, more affordable EVs like the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are hampered by their low overall range, although BMW works around that by offering a gas engine as a range extender.

While $40,000 is above the national average for a new vehicle purchase price, federal tax incentives can shave up to $7,500 off the price. Those incentives are limited for each automaker, so if Volvo sells more than 200,000 EVs, the incentive will be phased out over time. But for now, those incentives are helping to increase the potential market share for EVs.

The US is a unique market in that its land mass is, well, huge. Long trips and commutes are not out of the ordinary, and while charging rates are able to replenish a majority of battery life in less than an hour, repeated stops can still add hours to drive times. When the range hits a number that matches or nears gas engines -- 200 to 300 miles is usually that sweet spot -- then range anxiety will become far less of a factor in purchasing decisions.

Volvo's got the right ideas when it comes to developing an EV for the US market and beyond. Now we'll just have to set our phone timers for two years and see how it all pans out.

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