When Thomas Parker built the first production electric vehicle in 1895, the world didn’t realise what this breakthrough meant, shunning it in favour of crude but easily accessible internal combustion vehicles. Now, 125 years down the road, the movement of innovation has flipped on its head with almost all major car manufacturers having some form of electrification in their line-up.
Volvo has been at the forefront of the electrification race, offering some of the best plug-in hybrids in the world. Taking the next step in evolution, Volvo has introduced its own range of fully electric vehicles, aptly named Recharge. The XC40 Recharge P8 is the first of five cars planned for the brands EV range, and now has been confirmed for sale in the UK.
Based on the already successful XC40 platform, the XC40 Recharge does away with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder internal combustion engine in favour of two 201hp electric motor, one on each axle and an underfloor 78kWh battery pack. With a combined system output of 402hp and all-wheel drive, the XC40 Recharge is no performance slouch, sprinting from 0-100kph in just 4.9 seconds, making it faster than some modern hot hatches. As with all new Volvo models, the XC40 P8 will have its top speed limited to 180kph, which in reality, is plenty fast enough, especially in an electric vehicle.
Given the inherent limitation of an electric vehicle that would require the trade-off between range and performance, you would expect the XC40 Recharge to be pretty hopeless for interstate travel. Well, think again because this compact SUV has an estimated range of 400km, plenty for a trip from KL to Johor Bahru. That is, of course, if you don’t have a heavy right foot.
If you do find yourself running low on juice, fret not because Volvo says the XC40 can be charged from empty to 80 per cent capacity in just 40 minutes. However, this can only be achieved with a 150kW DC fast-charger, which are few and far between. Realistically, for day to day commuting, the XC40 has plenty of range and can be sufficiently charged overnight using an 11kW AC charger.
On the outside, the XC40 looks identical to the standard XC40, with the only visible difference being the tell-tale covered grille and the lack of visible exhaust pipes. A new wheel design adds some visual spice to the already stylish compact SUV.
It is the same story on the inside, with the XC40 being virtually identical to its fossil fuel-powered sibling. However, being an electric vehicle and a torch-bearer for a sustainable future, the door linings and carpets of the XC40 P8 made of 97% recycled plastics. Without an engine up front, the XC40 now features a ‘frunk’, adding 30 litres of usable cargo space to an already practical SUV.
This new all-electric Volvo debuts the brand’s new Android-based infotainment system, giving customers unparalleled levels of customisation and usability with the embedded Google technology and services. Total integration with Google’s open-source Android platform means services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and other automotive apps will be built in. As with recent BMW’s and Mercedes infotainment systems, software updates will be available to Volvo’s over the air, making the XC40 better over time.
Being a Volvo, you’d expect the XC40 to be jam-packed with safety features, and you’d be right. The XC40 will be featuring the brands newly updated Pilot Assist autonomous driving assistant. Using information from Google Maps, the systems improves on its functionality to take the strain out of long motorway journeys. Moreover, the loss of an engine meant that Volvo engineers had to redesign the frontal crash structure, ensuring uncompromised safety of the occupants, as with any another vehicle bearing the Swedish iron-mark.
Volvo has one of the manufacturers at the forefront of electrification and sustainable motoring. The XC40 Recharge P8 is just the first step in Volvo’s goal to reduce its vehicles’ emissions by 50% by 2025, all to achieve its long-term ambition to be climate-neutral by 2040. For those of us who aren’t totally ready for pure electric driving, Volvo has a range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that will give you a taste of the electric-life, with none of the drawbacks. Or you can just stick to good old petrol.