Flicking the switch: all-electric (2020) Volvo XC40 Recharge

Published: 16 October 2019

► Big-selling XC40 goes electric
► Over 245 miles of range claimed…
► Yet posts a sub-5.0sec 0-62mph time

Banished be the grille on this compact crossover – not because it’s a high-performance homage to the blanked-off snout of the 1970s Aston Martin Vantage, but because there’s not engine behind it to cool. You see this is the all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge, the Swedish brand’s first battery electric vehicle revealed at a special event in California.

Hang on, I thought Polestar had the leccy Volvo gig?

Sort of. While the spun-off Polestar brand is all about electrified exclusivity, so far enveloped in unique bodywork, Volvo’s approach is to offer full battery power within its existing range alongside the existing mix of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

 

That’s what the adaptable underpinnings were designed to do, and under the Recharge sub-brand, that’s exactly what Volvo’s up to.

Recharge? Sounds like it’s in constant need for plugging in

We’ll go into the specifics in a bit, but for now we’ll assume that Volvo’s marketing bods know what they’re doing. After all, the Recharge name won’t just be applied to its fully electric models, but its PHEVs, too – anything with a plug, essentially. Sounds like the death knell for the ambiguous Twin Engine moniker to us.

Anyway, semantics of the name aside, while the XC40 Recharge isn’t going to set new range benchmarks for a full EV, Volvo’s claiming a sensible distance of at least 245 miles between, err, recharges, thanks to a 75kWh lithium-ion power pack hidden under the floor. It’s a location that ensures no packaging compromises for the interior andkeeps the centre of gravity low – a worthwhile exercise given the little Volvo’s become a bit of a chubster at 2250kg. 

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Replenish those energy stocks overnight on a dedicated home wallbox and you’ll be looking at a flat-to-full time of 7.5 hours, but hunt-out one of those spangly 150kW public chargers that are popping-up around Britain and you can go 0-80% in just 40 minutes.

Volvo’s helping incentivise switching to its plug-in models. As of now, any PHEV Volvo buyer will receive credits towards their domestic electricity bill, potentially making it possible to run one free-of-charge if you’re able to drive in EV mode all the time.

Thought you mentioned high performance? That bulk’s gotta hurt…

It certainly would if the XC40 Recharge wasn’t blessed with gusto, but given the degree of urgency on tap, it’s unlikely to leave you wanting.

Right now we’re dealing with provisional figures, but courtesy of two electric motors – one per axle for all-wheel drive, metered via a single-speed transmission – expect a rudely healthy 402bhp (at 14,000rpm, if you will) and a 487lb ft slug of torque at your right foot’s instant beck and call.

That’s set to equate to a standstill-to-62mph blast in just 4.9 seconds, before topping-out at an electronically limited speed of 112mph, a speed cap set to be rolled-out across Volvo’s entire range in 2020.

Those numbers all relate to the P8 derivative, a number high enough within Volvo conventions to suggest that a lower-powered version, perhaps with front-wheel drive, could be further down the pipeline. Or would it be a cable..?

Moving on, what else do I need to know?

Remember that the XC40’s architecture was designed to accept electrification from the outset? The upshot of that is that neither space for passengers or luggage is hindered by the conversion. In fact, pop the bonnet and where you’d ordinarily see the top of an engine, with the Recharge you’ve got a useful 31-litre frunk, handy for stowing the charging cables without having them wrapping themselves around your groceries in the boot.

Although the interior looks pretty much the same as the ICE-equipped XC40s, there are some EV-specific electronic gauges and the infotainment system’s now powered by Android, meaning a host of over-the-air Google services including Maps and YouTube Music. 

And, complementing the XC40 Recharge’s announcement is Volvo’s radical commitment to reduce carbon emissions across its business operations.

Those plans include 50% of its vehicle sales to be electrified by 2025, plus reducing its supply chain, manufacturing and logistics CO2 emissions by 25% and ensuring a quarter of all of its plastics are recycled by the same year. Not quite the dramatic scale of reductions that would satisfy Greta Thunberg, but it’s an achievable – and welcome – step. 

So how much is this going to cost?

No official word yet, but given the pricing structure elsewhere in the XC40 hierarchy, it’s unlikely to come in below £50,000 when deliveries begin in late 2020.

Not cheap, them, but it it’s smaller and less costly than current alternatives such as the Audi E-Tron, Jaguar iPace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. Whether Tesla has a pricing trick up its sleeve when the Model Y arrives in 2020 remains to be seen.

We’re not on the verge of seeing a collapse in oil prices, but it might not be too long before a handful of those nodding donkeys are put out to pasture.

By Keith WR Jones

Contributor and deputy editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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