Volvo has officially launched the first of a new line of pure electric cars and revealed its ambitions for a greener and more sustainable future not only in terms of its products, but also its overall business.
The XC40 Recharge is the first car to take its place in the brand-new 'Recharge' car line concept. For the next five years, Volvo will launch one new EV per year as it alters its line-up to meet its target of 50 per cent of its car sales being electric and the other 50 per cent hybrid by 2025.
We've already covered the way in which Volvo has focussed heavily on building its world-renowned safety into the very core of the XC40 Recharge and given the brand's expertise in this area it would be remiss of us to gloss over the details.
The XC40 Recharge's body structure has seen Volvo's engineers address a whole host of new challenges, despite being built on the same CMA platform as the regular XC40. For example, the battery is built into a cage that makes up part of the car's structure, increasing the overall strength of the car and protecting the 78kWh battery simultaneously.
Where the combustion engine would be there is a new crash structure, and at the rear the powertrain is designed to add strength. An Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) of electronic aids complements the mechanical safety measures.
Powertrain-wise, if you read about the Polestar 2 recently, you will already be familiar with the figures at play! XC40 Recharge has two motors – one on each axle – bringing the total power to 402bhp complemented by 487lb-ft of torque. It'll hit 62mph from rest in 4.9 seconds and top out at 112mph.
That 78kWh battery is good for nearly 250 miles on the WLTP cycle and can be charged by the 11kW on-board AC charger or up to 150kW of DC power. At this rate, 80 per cent charge can be delivered in 40 minutes. Obviously the battery adds mass when compared to the internal combustion engine XC40, tipping the scales at 2150kg vs 1500kg.
During the launch press conference, much was made of Volvo's tie-up with Google in delivering the Android-powered infotainment system, including Google Automotive Assistant. Volvo reckons that the day the car comes out of the showroom is the day when its on-board systems are at their worst; thanks to over-the-air (OTA) software updates, the XC40 Recharge will evolve and improve in terms of functionality the older it gets.
Through the Android system, drivers can use all of the most popular apps that they would on their other smart devices – including Spotify, Google Play Music, Maps, Waze and more. Volvo even reckons it's cracked a voice assistance system that actually understands the majority of what you say...
The infotainment system is fully integrated with Volvo On Call, the company’s digital connected services platform. Via Volvo On Call, plug-in hybrid drivers can track how much time they spend driving on electric power.
For the most part, the XC40 Recharge shares the way it looks inside and outside with the standard car. There are a few give-aways, such as the smoothed-over front grille, some new badges and a charging port where the petrol filler cap should be. The dimensions remain common with the combustion-powered car, too, at 4425mm long and 2034mm wide. It sits 36mm lower thanks to the battery.
Inside there is a new digital dashboard specifically for the XC40 Recharge, as well as the touchscreen interface for that Android infotainment. There's 413 litres of interior luggage space, which is slightly less than the standard car, but the Recharge does get 31 litres of usable room in the 'frunk', under the bonnet where the engine would usually be.
Volvo is approaching sustainability like it has done with safety. To parody what it said at the launch, the safest way of not getting hurt in a car accident is to not drive. Similarly, the best way to not produce vehicle emissions is to not drive – but it's not a realistic option as people and communities rely on personal transport. Instead, it wants to use that gradual and pragmatic method it has applied to make its cars among the safest in the world to make them green.
Its aim is to reduce its per-car CO2 footprint by 40 per cent by 2025 – in line with its electrified car releases. This requires Volvo to invest in its supply chain and manufacturing facilities, with its short-term ambitions including a 25 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions related to its global supply chain by 2025, a 25 per cent share of recycled plastics in new Volvo cars by 2025, and a 25 per cent reduction of carbon emissions generated by the company’s overall operations, including manufacturing and logistics.
The Recharge name will be used across all of Volvo's future plug-in cars, so its Twin Engine models will take up that nomenclature going forward. To further boost its sales of plug-in cars, the brand is also changing its sales process by actively promoting electrified models as a priority on its website and offering financial incentives to go green.
[Updated May 2020] Volvo has now opened the order books for UK customers. Initially, the XC40 Recharge will go on sale in R-Design trim only with prices starting from £53,155 – which is in-line with the c. £50k that we predicted. Deliveries will begin in early 2021
In due course we still expect lower spec cars to become available, with our predicted price being from around £35,000.
Volvo has ramped up production of its electrified powertrains thanks to a recent deal with parent company Geely, so we expect that orders made after deliveries start won't be subject to crazy waiting times. We're looking forward to getting our hands on one and will bring you driving impressions as soon as we can.
Since we first wrote this story at the official launch of the XC40 Recharge Volvo has been busy getting ready to launch it to the public for sale. If you want to get an extended preview of the car the below video, published in May this year, is 14-and-a-half minutes well spent. It goes into detail on the styling, elements of the powertrain and the Google infotainment technology, providing a tantalising look at what owners can expect.