In Southern California, Volvo's Electric Revolution Is Ahead of Schedule

Zac Estrada

Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.

In Southern California, Volvo's Electric Revolution Is Ahead of Schedule

When Volvo rolls out its new EV, the 2022 C40 Recharge, early next year, the Swedish carmaker will feel confident about sales in at least one market: Southern California.

In June and July, Volvo Cars USA reported sales of plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of its cars made up more than half of its sales in California.

"It's our biggest market within our biggest market [North America]," said Volvo spokesman Russell Datz. "I think the buyers in Southern California are progressive, tech-savvy. They like the idea of hybrids and EVs, and there are certainly lots of incentives. Not just in terms of money, but in terms of parking, charging, familiarity with the tech."

Even with last year's pandemic-induced slump in new car sales, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicle sales stood at just over 8% of the market. Nationally, plug-in vehicles made up 1.8% of sales last year, a record.

Datz says Volvo also has another strong plug-in market in suburban Chicago, but the share of hybrid and electric Volvos sold in June and July for the entire U.S. hovered around 20%. That means not all of its U.S strongholds are on board with its electric movement — especially in places with cold and snowy seasons.

"This is a big roadblock, not just for Volvo, but any consumer new to the idea of owning an electric car," said Robby DeGraff, an analyst with Tustin-based AutoPacific. "Regardless of the automaker, this is something that really needs to be addressed with language that's super clear and easy to understand."

There's also the issue of maximum range — that is, how far the car can go on a full charge. Volvo's first all-electric car, the 2021 XC40 Recharge SUV, is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency to get up to 208 miles before it runs out of power. Early estimates put the C40 at about 210 in EPA testing.

That's a step behind some of their competitors. New EVs from Ford and Volkswagen, for example, get closer to 250 or offer different battery sizes. The four cars that Tesla now offers all start around 240 miles of range as a base — and are generally cheaper than Volvo's offerings.

Volvo's C40 electric vehicle

DeGraff says Volvo's larger SUVs are its bestselling "moneymakers," so when those models go all-electric in the next two to four years, range and price will be more comparable to their luxury rivals.

"If Volvo can offer full-electric versions of its lineup at prices that are comparable in a sense to the gas models, that'll be their key to success," he said.

The $58,750 C40 will include a leather-free interior, an advanced driver assistance system that performs minor steering functions, and built-in Google Maps and Google's voice assistant.

Even for California, the C40 Recharge will be a big test. The C40 is only available as an electric car. There is no internal combustion engine option at all. It's the first new Volvo without a gasoline or hybrid-powered counterpart, which is how the company will introduce its new cars until the entire line is electric in 2030.

There's an online component to the way all electric Volvos will be sold. Customers have been able to reserve the car since the C40 was first announced earlier this year. Even before the prices were announced last week they've been able to visit Volvo's U.S. website and put down a $500 place in line, and are still able to.

"I think EV customers are different from standard vehicle buyers, at least now," Datz said. "Frankly, the Tesla model is what they're most familiar with and Tesla has been successful. I defy you to find a customer who would turn down a simpler car buying experience, that's what we're trying to achieve."

But unlike Tesla and other EV startups, Volvo's partners in this new model are its franchised dealers. All of its U.S. dealers will continue to provide the option of a traditional sales experience to customers. And while those will continue to continue to provide in-person sales and repair service for electrics and other Volvos, the dealers in California and a few other states have not been pleased with some of the company's new sales strategies.

In August 2019, the California New Car Dealers Association were granted approval by the state to protest a program called Care by Volvo. The subscription-based service let customers pick a car online and, for one set price, pay for the car, insurance and any minor damage costs. And dealers weren't allowed add-on usual fees or options.

While Volvo uses this program successfully in other countries where laws are different, it's continued to refine the system in the U.S. to get it into more than 40 states as of now. But not in some big EV markets like California.

"We can't come in and say we're going online only and cut out all the dealers," Datz said. "One, it's bad business, and, two, it's illegal."

For now, Volvo's EVs have a sort of hybrid model when it comes to sales. And even those customers who choose to reserve and purchase the car online will also pick a local dealer to work with to get the car once it arrives.

What the company won't do is take too much inspiration from its subsidiary, Polestar, when it comes to sales. Polestar's sales process is almost entirely online, and the only brick-and-mortar pieces are so-called Spaces, which are retail storefronts where people can sit in the car and test drive it. One in Santa Monica opened last year and another is slated for Orange County later this year.

Datz says Polestar works independently and Volvo isn't looking at too many of that brand's sales strategies right now. But that could change.

"That's where customers are headed," he said. "It's very difficult to argue with a concept like Amazon where you just click a button and it shows up. Will that happen with cars? Maybe."

Editor's Note: This story was updated to clarify Volvo's relationship with its existing dealer network and the implementation of the online sales component of the 2022 C40.

🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.

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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.


Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle

Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out

Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities

Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo

SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours

Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch

Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.

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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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