Mercedes EQAEurope has some approximation of what may constitute competition for the EX30 thanks to the Mercedes EQA electric crossover. Unfortunately, while there were talks to bring the crossover here to America, those plans were never realized. Perhaps now, with the new Volvo, Mercedes will reevaluate. Regardless, over in Europe, the EQA certainly isn't beating Volvo on price. A standard EQA starts around 47,000 EUR, or $51,000 on the American market. However, it is a luxury-lite take by an established luxury brand, so points there.
Range is another downer. Euro-spec models estimate roughly 324 miles with the EQA 250+, though it only makes 190 horsepower to the front wheels. I'd happily sacrifice some 50 miles of range for an AWD car that's cheaper with more than double the horsepower. Still, Mercedes offers an EQA 350 with 292 hp and 268 miles, again closer to the Volvo – save for price. It's not looking good for the competition.
Kia Niro EVPerhaps South Korea has an answer for the Swedes? After all, the small Niro EV is roughly sized to compete with the Volvo. Taking a look at the spec sheet, however, quickly rules it out despite the car's competitive $40,875 MSRP.
The Niro EV makes just 201 hp, for starters. On top of that, its battery manages less range with 67 less horsepower – just 201 miles. Volvo promises 265 for even its dual-motor versions. I imagine the Cross Country model's chunky tires will ding the range as well. Still, Volvo has Kia beat on specs, pricing, and, frankly, style. Size up to an Ioniq 5, and that offers better range, but with it, added size and cost. For now, Korea doesn't really have an answer to what appears to be a Goldilocks EV.
Chevrolet Bolt EUVWhile it's still in production, the Bolt EUV is actually an honest-to-God competitor for Volvo – though I doubt the two will ever be on sale at the same time. The Bolt EUV offers a competitive 247-mile range, though it doesn't offer a dual-motor setup. It also starts at roughly the same price as the Volvo's bottom-rung trim – $34,495.
Moreover, the Bolt EUV shares a similar form factor to the Volvo. It even offers a small battery, like the Volvo. But dig deeper, and I can start to poke holes. Chevy won't be selling them, on top of the fact that the Volvo is more sustainably made, sports newer tech and more modern safety features, and offers improved cargo space. Even among its closest competitors, Volvo seems to have built a winner.
Toyota PriusLet's look elsewhere, outside the small electric crossover segment. Toyota's new Prius has been lauded in the media, and I see why. When I drove the Prius, it became immediately clear that Toyota had taken just about every complaint about the small, 200-ish hp hybrid and resolved them. Now, it is down on power compared to the Volvo – just about any car that isn't fully electric will be.
However, the lineup is competitive from a pricing standpoint. The top-tier Limited undercuts the EX30 with its $35,560 MSRP, and you can even have AWD. For now, the Prius is really the only small, sensible alternative to the Volvo that will continue to be on sale once Volvo spins up production for the EX30.
There are a few explanations. First, brands have been rushing to push out larger vehicles simply because that's what the public thinks they need. I say "think" because I know the majority of buyers can get away with around 40% less car than they have. People like to buy for the "just in case." Volvo, in its minimalistic ways, is looking to appeal to an audience that doesn’t think like that.
Second, this is just serendipity. Volvo has other large EVs on the way. The flagship EX90 will be big, excessive, and expensive – certainly not bucking any EV trends there. A larger, Model Y-like EX model is on the way as well. Volvo, likely very intentionally, entered this segment at a time when a lot of its competitors decided to pack it in. Perhaps with the new, minimal-luxury-sustainability angle it has, Volvo will be able to capture the buyers Chevy and others in the space weren’t able to. They certainly have my attention.