Volvo CEO: Electric cars enhance Cross Country appeal

MILAN — Appealing as the new Volvo EX30 is in st andard guise, it’s the upcoming Cross Country version

that’s got my interest piqued. Volvo
hasn’t introduced a new Cross Country model since the V60 was revealed in 2018, and the company has never applied this treatment to one of its SUVs (though may we never forget the 2015 S60 Cross Country sedan).

“I really like the idea of having the Cross Country as part of the brand,” Volvo Cars CEO, Jim Rowan, said in an interview Wednesday. Rowan declined to comment on Volvo’s plans to expand the Cross Country lineup further, but did talk about why a car with an outdoorsy vibe totally makes sense as an EV.

“When you have a fully electric car … you open that tailgate, you stick a tent on the back of it [and] you use the HVAC system to heat or cool the car,” Rowan said. “You can run a small fridge off of it, you can charge an electric bike off of it. You can do a whole bunch of stuff that you could never do because you’ve now got this massive electric power source that you never had.”

Of course, that’s all dependent on your ability to charge your car at or near your desired remote getaway spot. EV chargers

are still a rarity at many national parks, though that’s quickly changing.

In this wide-ranging interview, Rowan also touched on Volvo’s progress with installing lidar systems in its vehicles – something first seen on the larger EX90 SUV but absent on the EX30.

“It’s two different platforms,” Rowan pointed out. “At one point in time we wondered whether we could get lidar actually into the 90.” And when it came to designing the EX30, “It was more a case of ‘can we get this car out at this time’ [and] it was on a different platform which never really allowed us the option.”

Later in the conversation, Rowan discussed Volvo’s plans to offer over-the-air updates in the EX30. This gives Volvo the ability to perform lots of future upgrades, but it also opens the door for pay-to-play feature subscription fees – something Rowan said the company has no plans to pursue.

“Personally, I don’t think it plays with the brand,” Rowan said. “We’re seen as a bit of the honest broker. I think we want to maintain that.”

Rowan said EX30 customers will see “a whole plethora” of different updates, but “some will just be tidy-up” updates to make the vehicle’s software perform better.

“I don’t subscribe that there’s a massive business model to keep charging your customer more for software updates unless it’s meaningful,” Rowan said. “If you w ant to have a fine-tuned performance engine and we can do that through software, that’s gonna be an upgrade. Heated seats? Probably not.”

The EX30 is available to pre-order now, priced from right around $36,000. The Cross Country is expected to follow next year, with production estimated to start in late 2024.