Volvo has promised a “flawless launch” of its Belgium electric car factory at an inauguration event for the facility on Thursday, saying there are no issues for supply of cells for the factory which opens on Monday (Europe time).
The carmaker revealed plans at the event to attending media that it will produce EV batteries 24 hours a day in three shifts for the XC40 Recharge, which the Chinese-Swedish carmaker Volvo intends to start production of in late September.
Battery supply issues have been plaguing carmakers Jaguar and Audi leading to reduce or halt production of the I-Pace and e-Tron, which both source lithium-ion batteries from South Korean LG Chem.
But Volvo VP for vehicle line management Jonas Engstrom told Automotive New Europe at the Ghent factory opening that this was not a problem for Volvo, despite the fact that cells for the 78kWh XC40 batteries to be made at the new factory will also be sourced from LG Chem.
South Korean LG Chem in February halted production of cells in China it had been supplying to European storage system makers, and there are concerns that the outbreak of coronavirus in China and South Korea may affect future supply to European automakers.
But Engstrom says that plans to start making XC40 batteries are going to smoothly.
“We don’t have any issues,” Engstrom told Automotive News Europe. “Everything is running according to plan.”
According to Automotive News Europe, this was also backed up Volvo new model launch manager Peter Durie who said that LG Chem had not indicated any issues with supply.
Volvo’s first all-electric car to go into production, the XC40 Recharge electric SUV will offer up to 400km driving range (WLTP) from its 78kWh batteries, and will be built on the same Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform that offshoot Polestar will use for the Polestar 2.
The new 5,000 square metre factory, has been built in a former employee carpark next to Volvo’s Ghent car plant where it makes 1,00 cars a day including 185,000 XC40s a year alongside the V60.
Other Volvo electric vehicles under the Polestar and Lynk & Co names will be built in Luqiao, China, also on teh CMA platform.
Volvo has taken “thousands” of orders for the all-electric XC40s, according to Automotive News Europe, and although Engstrom would not reveal exactly how many thousands he hinted that if initial interest indicated future demand, the carmaker would need to revise its production plans.
“This car has exceeded all of our expectations when it comes to initial hand-raisers and orders,” said Engstrom, who oversees Volvo’s 40- and 60-series cars.
“I would not be surprised if we, sometime in the future, revised capacity.”
Volvo first revealed the all-electric XC40 in October 2019, adding the name “Recharge” which it will use for all its battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
By 2025, the Chinese-Swedish carmaker wants 50% of sales to be electrified, and in order to reach that goal has invested € 150 million ($A263 million) towards the construction of the battery assembly plant and equipping the neighbouring car plant, including training operators.
Volvo also has plans to start construction of a second battery line in the US at its South Carolina facility in the northern hemisphere’s autumn.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.