Polestar 3 Warned Ridgeville Plant Will Be Volvo's First All-Electric Factory

When Volvo and Polestar disclosed they would produce the Polestar 3 in Volvo’s Ridgeville plant in the US, that was more than just a new product announcement. In fact, Volvo also meant to alert that its American plant will become the first to manufacture only electric cars, which is crucial for Volvo to achieve the target of selling only EVs by 2030.
Volvo Ridgeville Plant 6 photos
Photo: Volvo
Polestar 3Volvo Ridgeville Plant in South CarolinaCMA PlatformCMA PlatformCMA Platform
According to Automotive News, the Volvo Cars CEO said the $700 million investment there has precisely this goal. Håkan Samuelsson also revealed that the new dedicated EV platform is actually a development of SPA (Scalable Product Architecture). That’s the same platform that is currently used by the S60 produced there.

Transforming Ridgeline into Volvo’s first plant exclusively for electric cars is not just a strategic move to “build where you sell,” as the company told Automotive News. It is also the easiest plant to convert to EVs.

Since it started operating in 2018, the Ridgeville unit did not come even close to its manufacturing capacity of 150,000 cars. According to Automotive News, it would have produced only 26,500 vehicles in 2020 due to the pandemic. A plant that is not in full operation can accept changes in a smoother way than one running 24/7.

The fact that the Ridgeville unit does not produce the engines also makes the transition faster. If Volvo had invested in manufacturing the engines for the S60 in the US, getting rid of such investments would be very expensive.

The primary difficulty there will be to find a cell supplier in time for production, expected to begin late in 2022. The Polestar 3 should be the first EV made in Ridgeville, but the new generation of the XC90 will follow soon. The flagship SUV will be fully electric, and its main market is in the US.

Volvo recently announced a deal with Northvolt to produce batteries, but there would be no time to build a new cell plant in the US to supply Ridgeville for production by the end of 2022. That means Volvo will probably have to find a company that is already on American soil, such as SK Innovation or LG Energy Solution.

Considering how expensive the Polestar 3 and the XC90 will be, production volumes will not represent an issue. More than that, they may not justify an entire battery plant to supply the Ridgeville factory, reinforcing the idea of buying these cells from someone who already produces them in the US.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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