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Why the all-electric Volvo EX30 is such a big deal on August 1, 2023 at 8:37 pm

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Almost a decade ago, Volvo drove into the modern era by going big. Literally. The second-generation XC90 crossover that launched in 2015 helped reset a brand associated with boxy station wagons by offering innovative hybrid engines, striking styling and a big tablet center screen that felt right out of the Tesla playbook.

Now, the car that’s poised to be Volvo’s next big hit is actually pretty small — and affordable, too.

The EX30, which recently made its North American debut in New York, is a car full of firsts. Volvo’s first compact fully electric crossover is its quickest car ever and is outfitted with an innovative, yet cheaper interior made with sustainable materials — a combination the automaker believes is key to turning the EX30 into a mass-volume, mainstream success.

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In short, this small car is a big deal for Volvo and a major evolution of the brand. And it’s already making a huge splash.

“The overall reception has been exceeding expectations, multiple times,” David Mele, the EX30’s product manager in the United States, said in an interview. “It’s been remarkably positive. We’re seeing that basically, every market that Volvo operates in is really excited about this car.”

Little car, big deal

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Image Credits: Volvo

A major reason is the EX30’s price tag: It starts at $34,950, instantly making it one of the more affordable EV options in the United States. In a year when electric adoption has seen some ups and downs — some critics worry demand is slowing as EVs pile up on dealer lots — the EX30 will come in well below the average $53,000 price tag these cars command lately.

Very few players exist in America’s affordable EV space right now: There’s the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, selling like crazy after price cuts and tax rebates; the Chevrolet Bolt, which General Motors reversed course on discontinuing; and a handful of others, like the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV and Hyundai Kona Electric. The latter two can easily cross into the $40,000 range at dealer lots.

It’s not that most people aren’t interested in EVs, analysts say, but that they’re turned off by their prices at a time when interest rates are high and the economy faces uncertainty ahead. Data firm AutoPacific found in a recent survey that a price tag below $35,000 is what it would take for many people to flip the switch.

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The EX30’s right in that sweet spot, undercutting even Volvo’s next-cheapest car, the compact gas or electric XC40, by a few thousand dollars. The EX30 is about 10 inches smaller than the XC40 and 20 inches smaller than Tesla’s world-beating Model Y crossover.

Previous attempts at compact cars haven’t always gone great for Volvo. Today, its top-selling models in the U.S. are the midsize XC60, followed by the bigger XC90. Past entrants like the compact C30 hatchback and V50 never made a big sales splash, either.

In a lot of ways, the EX30 is risky, but Volvo is banking on that electric powertrain to attract customers it wouldn’t have had before.

Mele said the target EX30 customer is “pre-family” buyers without kids or even “post-family” parents and grandparents. It could be a lot of buyers’ second or third car, or their first EV, and their first Volvo. That’s… a lot of people.

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In short, Volvo’s going for mass appeal on this one — something it hasn’t really gone in for terribly often before. “It’s not going to be a niche product,” Mele said. (He declined to discuss sales targets for the EX30.)

Swedish roots, Chinese production

Scale fits with Volvo’s goals of going “half-electric” by 2025 and all-electric by 2030, Mele said. But it’s also a key part of initiatives driven by Volvo’s Chinese parent company, Geely Holding Group. Between Volvo, the more performance-focused Polestar, the British sports car maker Lotus and several EV-focused brands not sold in America like Lynk & Co, Geely is increasingly rising as the Chinese auto conglomerate looking to take over the world — perhaps even without its customers realizing it.

In fact, like just a handful of other cars sold in the U.S. these days, the EX30 will be made in China. That means it won’t be eligible for any U.S. tax credits and that it’s subject to a 27.5% tariff on Chinese-made vehicles — making that price tag even more impressive. (“Anything we have to pay to the government is accounted for in that price,” Mele said, declining to speak on the potential profitability of the car.)

Mele said Volvo is still evaluating where the car will be built over the long term.

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While Volvo won’t say anything further officially, it’s plausible that the company could decide to follow the moves of several competitors and put production somewhere in North America. Volvo is already expanding its South Carolina plant to build its flagship EX90 electric crossover. “Our goal, long term, is to build cars where we sell,” Mele said. “That’s both just good from a manufacturing perspective but also cuts down on carbon emissions.”

Other markets aren’t as aggressive on China tariffs, of course. But at a time when European automakers are deeply concerned about lower-cost Chinese cars eating their market share on their home turfs, Volvo is one European brand that could have its kladdkaka and eat it too.

Specs that matter

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Image Credits: Patrick George

While Americans have historically been wary of Chinese-made, cars given past perceptions and political tensions, the EX30 could be enough of a deal that it will test just how much we care; the long-held Swedish brand identity might help.

The EX30 offers two battery packs: a 69 kWh nickel-cobalt-manganese unit for North America, and a cheaper, lower-range 51 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate unit for other markets. The EX30 has two powertrain setups. The base model is a single-motor, rear-wheel drive car boasting 272 horsepower and 275 miles of range. That model does zero to 60 mph in a respectable 5.7 seconds. Upgrading to the Twin Motor Performance variant gets dual motors for all-wheel-drive and 422 horsepower, plus a zero to 60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds. No Volvo has ever been that quick from the factory, the company says.

Its 12.3-inch vertical touchscreen, which runs almost all major control interfaces as there’s nothing in front of the driver, much like a Tesla, runs the latest version of Google’s Android operating system. Wireless Apple CarPlay is also standard, as is wireless phone charging, standard 5G connectivity, over-the-air software updates, four USB-C ports, and what Volvo says is the ability to fast-charge from 10% to 80% in 26.5 minutes.

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In other words, while it’s small and affordable, it doesn’t seem like some penalty box economy car. And it comes in some fun colors, like Cloud Blue or the especially daring (for Volvo, anyway) Moss Yellow. The EX30 is expected to go on sale next summer.

And while Mele confirmed the EX30 will launch with the standard CCS charging port, Volvo’s models will be able to access Tesla’s Supercharger network with an adapter in 2024, and that plug will be standard from 2025 onward, which could make it even more enticing as someone’s “first EV.” Mele said that’s exactly the goal.

“With this car, we’re sort of democratizing battery electric vehicles,” he said.

​ Almost a decade ago, Volvo drove into the modern era by going big. Literally. The second-generation XC90 crossover that launched in 2015 helped reset a brand associated with boxy station wagons by offering innovative hybrid engines, striking styling and a big tablet center screen that felt right out of the Tesla playbook. Now, the car 

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Humans Need Not Apply: The AI Candidate Promising to Disrupt Democracy

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The rise of AI Steve, the artificial intelligence candidate running for a seat in the UK Parliament, has sparked a heated debate about the role of AI in governance and the potential disruption it could bring to traditional democratic processes.

Steven Endacott, the human force behind AI Steve, envisions his AI co-pilot as a conduit for direct democracy, enabling constituents to engage with the AI, share concerns, and shape its policy platform through a voting system of “validators.” Endacott has pledged to vote in Parliament according to the AI’s constituent-driven platform, even if it conflicts with his personal views.

Proponents argue that AI Steve can revolutionize politics by bringing more voices into the process and ensuring that policies truly reflect the will of the people. They claim that an AI candidate can engage in up to 10,000 conversations simultaneously, allowing for unprecedented levels of public participation and input.

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However, critics raise valid concerns about transparency, accountability, and the potential for AI systems to be manipulated or influenced by their creators, data limitations, or external actors. There are also questions about whether an AI can fully grasp the nuances and human elements involved in complex political issues.

Some argue that AI Steve is merely a clever marketing ploy to garner attention and votes, rather than a genuine effort to “humanize” politics. There are fears that the use of AI in elections could undermine faith in electoral outcomes and democratic processes if voters become aware of potential scams or manipulation.

 

Beyond the specific case of AI Steve, the rise of AI candidates and the increasing use of AI in political campaigns and elections raise broader questions about the integrity of democratic systems and the need for effective regulations and guidelines.

Anti-democratic actors and authoritarian regimes may seek to exploit AI technologies for censorship, surveillance, and suppressing dissent under the guise of enhancing governance. There are also concerns about the potential for an “AI arms race” between political parties to develop and deploy the most sophisticated AI technologies, further eroding public trust.

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As AI tools become more advanced and accessible, upholding electoral integrity will require proactive efforts to establish guardrails, transparency measures, and accountability frameworks around their use in politics. Policymakers, advocates, and citizens must work together to ensure that AI is leveraged as a force for a better and more inclusive democracy, rather than a tool for manipulation or consolidation of power.

The rise of AI candidates like AI Steve serves as a wake-up call for democratic societies to grapple with the implications of artificial intelligence in governance and to strike the right balance between harnessing its potential benefits and mitigating its risks to the democratic process.

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Saudi Arabia Says ‘Thank You, Next’ to the US Dollar

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Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering abandoning the US dollar for oil trade settlements, a move that could shake the foundations of the global financial system. For decades, the petrodollar system has propped up the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency, with Saudi Arabia insisting on dollar payments for its vast oil exports.

However, recent comments from Saudi officials hint at exploring alternatives to the dollar amid growing tensions with the US over various geopolitical issues and the rise of economic powerhouses like China.

Implications of a Petrodollar Shift

If Saudi Arabia abandons the petrodollar, the implications could be significant:

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1. Dollar Dominance Eroded: The dollar’s reserve currency status could weaken, potentially leading to a decline in its value.
2. Global Financial Instability: A sudden shift could trigger volatility in global markets as investors adjust portfolios.
3. Geopolitical Realignment: The move could signal Saudi alignment with China and challenge US economic hegemony.

Challenges and Uncertainties

While the prospect is significant, challenges remain:

1. Finding a suitable alternative currency with the dollar’s liquidity and stability.
2. Potential economic disruption for Saudi Arabia and trading partners.
3. Political backlash and strained relations with the US and allies.

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As the world watches, it remains uncertain whether Saudi Arabia’s comments signal a negotiating tactic or a profound shift in the global financial order.

 

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X Opens the Door to Adult Content With New Policy

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X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has made a significant policy shift by officially permitting adult content on its platform with some restrictions and guidelines.

In an update to its rules, X stated that users can now share “consensually produced and distributed adult nudity or sexual behavior” as long as it is properly labeled and not prominently displayed in areas like profile pictures or header images.

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“We recognize that many of our users are adults who want to freely express themselves by sharing legal adult content,” said an X spokesperson. “At the same time, we have a responsibility to protect minors and prevent exposure to explicit material without proper labeling.”

Under the new guidelines, users who “regularly post” adult content must adjust their settings to automatically mark images and videos as sensitive content, which blurs or hides the media by default. By default, users under 18 or who haven’t entered their birth date cannot view this sensitive adult content.

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The policy prohibits content “promoting exploitation, nonconsent, objectification, sexualization or harm to minors, and obscene behaviors.” It applies to all adult content, whether photographic, animated, or AI-generated.

X has stated that it will monitor user-generated content and adjust account settings for those who fail to properly mark pornographic posts. Similar rules and enforcement will apply to violent content as well.

The move aligns X with Apple’s app store guidelines, which allow apps with adult content as long as it is hidden by default and behind proper age gates and content warnings.

While adult content was already present on X, this policy update officially permits and regulates it, aiming to balance freedom of expression for consenting adults with protecting minors from exposure to explicit material.

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However, enforcing these rules consistently may prove challenging for X’s reduced content moderation teams following recent layoffs and cost-cutting measures.

The policy shift has drawn mixed reactions, with some praising X for embracing adult expression while others raise concerns about the potential for the platform to become inundated with pornographic content despite the restrictions.

As X navigates this new territory, the effectiveness of its labeling requirements, age verification measures, and content moderation efforts will be closely watched by users, regulators, and advocacy groups alike.

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If you want to create awesome branded experiences that truly captivate your audience, look no further than Bolanle Media. Our team of experts specializes in crafting immersive, unforgettable events that seamlessly blend creativity and strategy. From product launches to experiential marketing activations, we’ll ensure your brand makes a lasting impression. With our finger on the pulse of the latest trends and technologies, we’ll help you engage customers in innovative ways they’ll be buzzing about. Don’t settle for ordinary – let Bolanle Media elevate your brand with extraordinary experiences tailored to your unique vision. Click this link to learn more and take your marketing to new heights.

 

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