BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo Make Progress with Upcoming All-Electric SUVs

By · February 22, 2018

Volvo 40.2 Concept

For the past couple of years, American car buyers have had exactly one choice in a long-range all-electric SUV: the $85,000 Tesla Model X. But based on stories reported in the past few weeks, three European automakers are making progress with the development of pure electric SUVs. One or more of these vehicles, previously unveiled as concepts, could go on sale in the U.S. in the next couple of years.

These reports follow previous indications that Audi and Jaguar will soon introduce their luxury EVs—and more affordable all-electric SUVs will soon be introduced by Hyundai and Volkswagen. These announcements and unveilings are occurring so regularly that they have become difficult to track.

In late January, Autoweek reported that Volvo will move its 40.2 electric concept into production. The electric version of the 40.2 concept, which was first revealed in May 2016, could go on sale as early as 2019. The future all-electric hatchback is expected to have a range of about 310 miles. Autocar reported that the 40.2 could use a modular battery configuration—allowing buyers to choose between models with different levels of power and range. This strategy was pioneered by Tesla.

Volvo currently sells plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90 and XC60 SUVs, although in small quantities. The company is expected to offer a plug-in hybrid version of the XC40 crossover as soon as this year. Some media outlets are describing the future Volvo EV as an all-electric version of the XC40, but the upcoming model has not yet given a formal model name.

The far-out futuristic BMW iNext

Meanwhile, the UK’s Auto Express last month reported that BMW will launch an autonomous all-electric SUV—about the size of an X5—in about three years. That vehicle will be just one of about a dozen pure EVs to be introduced by BMW by 2025.

The vehicle is referred to as the iNext. “It’s groundbreaking,” said Alexander Kotouc, head of product management for BMW i. “It will have a completely different interior and be able to seat five people.” Like Volvo, BMW says its EV platform will be flexible, allowing for battery packs of different sizes—starting at about 280 miles and going as far as 435 miles on a single charge.

BMW is also emphasizing that the iNext will be appealing for its innovative interior design, powerful motors, and a high degree of vehicle autonomy. “We’re going to see what we believe to be the first full autonomous capability,” said Ian Robertson, BMW’s chief of sales and marketing. His remarks stand in contrast with most analysts’ belief that highly autonomous cars will be primarily shared—rather than privately owned.

Other media outlets are reporting that the BMW iX3—an all-electric crossover—is expected as soon as 2020. That would be BMW’s third EV, following the i3 compact and a MINI EV due next year.

Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ

Finally, just last week, Mercedes-Benz hinted that it will reveal the first production version of an all-electric car for its new EQ brand at next month's 2018 Geneva Motor Show. That’s the brand that Mercedes-Benz is expected to use for an entire family of upcoming EVs.

With a claimed range of more than 300 miles, the vehicle currently dubbed Generation EQ could go head-to-head against those BMW and Volvo models. In fact, the Generation EQ—and a production version of the smaller EQA concept—could appear at the Geneva Motor Show along with all-electric SUVs from Audi and Jaguar.

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