Volvo EX30 could mark a tipping point in affordability for EVs

  • Only a handful of EVs are priced below $35,000, and one of the cheapest –the Chevy EV –will be phased out after this year.
  • The 2020 Volvo EX30 is built in China and starts at just $36,145. This price includes the tariffs on imported cars from China.
  • This Volvo crossover could be the beginning of a Chinese electric vehicle juggernaut in the U.S. Market.

The unveiling of the 2025 Volvo EX30 last week could be seen as a turning point in U.S. automobile sales. The rear-drive EX30, with 268 hp and a price starting at $36,145, has a range of 275 mph. The smallest Volvo is now part of a small group of EVs under $40,000

The EX30 is more expensive than the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt, which has a 259-mile range and a starting price of just under $28K. But that car will be out of production at the end of the year. GM will only have something comparable once GM starts selling its $30,000 Chevy Equinox EV. The 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric is another option. It has a 258-mile range and a starting MSRP of under $35,000

But here’s the thing: The EX30 was built in China. This low price also includes 25 percent tariffs on all China-made vehicles imported to the U.S., giving a glimpse at how cheaply electric cars are built in China.

This leaves a data-vars-ga-call to action=”huge opportunity for China” data­vars­ga­outbound­linkThis leaves China with a huge opportunity. China has an advantage of about $10,000 in building small EVs. Only one Chinese brand, Polestar, has homologized their EVs for sale in the U.S.

China-built cars are already here.

Thousands of gasoline-powered cars built in China are sold annually under familiar brand names. In 2022, most of these cars will be Buick Envisions, with almost 26,000 units. There are also about 1000 Volvo luxury sedans. The only other China-made vehicle was the 9850 Polestar 2, an electric hatchback. Geely, the Chinese manufacturer of Volvo and Polestar, is also responsible for Volvo.

Polestar, however, is brand new to the U.S., and many Americans have yet to hear of it. Buick, with sales of only 103,500 last year, is a minor brand within GM’s portfolio compared to Chevrolet (1.5 million) and GMC (550,000). Volvo’s sales of 102,000 last year were the same as Buick’s. However, Volvo is a more premium brand that should appeal to buyers interested in electric vehicles.

Polestar plans to build the Polestar 3 electric vehicle in the U.S., but we will see at least another gasoline-powered model produced in China this year. The Lincoln Nautilus is a luxury SUV made in China and exported worldwide. Detroit automakers are reluctant to talk about Chinese imports. General Motors decided to build its North American Buick Encore GX, Buick Envista, and Buick Envista compact SUVs in South Korea rather than import them from China.

China’s first try

Reporters who have covered the auto industry will remember the time five Chinese automakers displayed their cars at the Detroit auto show, albeit in a basement with less-than-perfect press materials. It was in 2008, 15 years ago.

The lead-up to the show was marked by widespread fear of a Chinese invasion of new cars. It was thought that Chinese manufacturers would follow in the footsteps of Japanese and South Korean car makers in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s by creating vehicles at a lower price than their competitors and constantly refining them.

Then, the press saw the cars. They needed to be competitive and ready for the U.S. The discussion of China-made cars ended shortly after the auto industry went into recession. Two of the three U.S. manufacturers declared bankruptcy, and the White House Task Force forced them to restructure.

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