Volvo Cars inaugurated a new battery assembly line at its Belgian manufacturing plant last week. Ghent is where the company will start building its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge P8, later this year.

“I am pleased to celebrate this momentous occasion with our employees here in Ghent. As the first of our plants to get a battery assembly line, Ghent plays a pioneering role as we continue to prepare our manufacturing network for electrification,” said Geert Bruyneel, head of global production operations.

The new line at Ghent – which has been making Volvos since 1965 and employs around 6,500 people – will assemble EV batteries from CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea. Last year, Volvo signed long-term agreements with the two leading battery suppliers, which cover the supply of batteries over the coming decade for next generation Volvo and Polestar models, including the XC40 Recharge P8.

Volvo says that the Ghent plant will provide important learnings to other manufacturing sites in terms of process optimisation and efficiency. Earlier this year, the company announced the planned construction of a battery assembly line at its US plant in South Carolina. Construction of that line is expected to start this fall.

The Swedish carmaker will also build EVs at a Volvo-operated factory in Luqiao, China, where Volvo cars based on the CMA platform are built alongside models with similar underpinnings from sister brands Polestar and Lynk & Co.

The brand’s ambitious electrification strategy and climate action plan aims to reduce lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40% between 2018 and 2025, and the ultimate goal is to be a climate-neutral company by 2040. Over the next five years, Volvo will launch a full EV every year, as it seeks to make EVs 50% of global sales by 2025, with the rest hybrids. Recharge will be the new name for all chargeable Volvos, EV or plug-in hybrid.

Revealed in October 2019, the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 is a fully electric version of the brand’s XC40 SUV. It features a dual-motor setup – one on each axle – that provides a total system output of 408 PS and 660 Nm, good for 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 180 km/h.

The 78 kWh lithium-ion battery in the floor provides around 400 km of range on a single charge under the WLTP cycle. The car can be recharged via a Type 2 AC connection, which will take about 7.5 hours when plugged into an 11 kW three-phase charger. DC charging up to 150 kW with a CCS connection allows for 80% charge in just 40 minutes.

The XC40 EV is also the first Volvo to get a new infotainment system running on Android Automotive OS in place of the Sensus system. With it, users will get full access Google services and apps from the Play Store, and the system is fully integrated with the Volvo On Call digital connected services platform. More on the XC40 Recharge P8 here.

GALLERY: Volvo XC40 Recharge P8