Volvo Makes Strong Electric Play With C40, XC60 Recharge BEVs

A half-dozen of Volvo’s 60- and 90-Series plug-in hybrid models with improved powertrains and larger batteries for significantly longer EV range will be available mid-2022.

Gary Witzenburg, Correspondent

March 30, 2022

5 Min Read
Volvo C40_Recharge_front 1.4 (2)
Over-the-air updates will raise C40 Recharge’s range from EPA-rated 226 miles, Volvo says.Volvo

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Regular readers know Volvo’s “pure” electric vehicles will be sold only online going forward, and new partnership will see a pilot program of ChargePoint stations at up to 15 Starbucks stores along a 1,350-mile (2,174-km) route from Denver to the coffee company’s headquarters in Seattle available by mid-2022.

Also that Volvo is “committed to becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric-car market” with at least half of its global target of 1.2 million vehicles full BEV by 2025 and 100% by 2030.

We traveled to Palm Springs to drive Volvo’s ’22 C40 Recharge BEV and were also treated to a shorter drive of its upgraded XC60 Recharge T8 “Extended Range” midsize CUV, one of a half-dozen 60- and 90-Series plug-in hybrid models with improved powertrains and larger batteries for significantly longer EV range. Available mid-2022, they will replace current T8 models to offer 38-41 (EPA) miles (61-66 km) of electric-only driving and will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

C40 Recharge

The C40 Recharge small CUV – the first-ever Volvo designed to be electric only – is the XC40 Recharge wearing a lower, sleeker, sexier body. To our eyes, it is the best-looking Volvo in years. Not that other current models don’t look fine; they do. But Volvo designers made a statement with this one.

The signature Thor’s Hammer headlights are new pixel LEDs that switch on and off independently to optimize the light pattern and automatically adjust to light conditions. At the rear are segmented vertical lights and one big high-mounted stop lamp along the roof.

The cabin seats occupants comfortably high for outside visibility and offers a range of colors and sustainable materials, and no leather option – the first leather-free Volvo. The press kit description: “Using…inspiration from the Scandinavian landscapes with their quiet atmospheres, light and freedom of space, the confidence of the exterior…is tied together with an interior design characterized by the calming effects of nature. The large, panoramic glass roof enhances the airiness of the cabin, making the most out of short winter days, while blurring the line between outside and inside during bright summer nights.”

Like its CMA platform-mate XC40 Recharge, the C40 comes with a new Android-based infotainment system – jointly developed with Google and said to be an industry first – that is a huge improvement in usability over the scroll-and-poke, everything-in-the-screen system in other recent Volvos. It provides built-in Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store with unlimited data enabling superior connectivity and over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Also, like the XC40 Recharge AWD it is driven front and rear by twin 201-hp electric motors and a 78-kWh battery that can be fast-charged to 80% in about 40 minutes. Its EPA range of 226 miles (364 km) is expected to improve over time via OTA updates and it can sprint from zero-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.5 seconds.

XC60 Recharge T8

“For many customers, a plug-in hybrid is their first experience in driving electric,” says Volvo Cars USA President &and? CEO Anders Gustafsson. “This upgrade will show…the benefits of an electric future and serve as a stepping stone on their own journey toward full electrification.”

Improvements to the T8 AWD PHEV (inset) powertrain include a new three-layer 18.8-kWh battery replacing the previous 11.6-kWh pack and a 143-hp (up from 87 hp) rear electric motor.Volvo XC60 Recharge T8

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All ’22 Volvo PHEVs based on the automaker’s Scalable Product Architecture – S60, V60, XC60, S90 and XC90 – will be powered by this new T8 Recharge powertrain. The turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. – no longer “double-charged” with both turbo and supercharger – are upgraded for both higher efficiency and stronger performance, and XC60 and S90 T8 models now will have one-pedal-drive capability.

The company says the resulting total combined output of 455 hp makes them the most powerful production Volvos ever, and that the upgraded motor also improves all-wheel-drive capability.

Driving Impressions

Our XC60 T8 Recharge drive took us through town, then up a twisty mountain road to a scenic outlook and back. We used 29 miles (47 km) of the indicated 35-mile (56-km) EV range on the way up, then gained three miles (5 km) back on the way down, all in one-pedal-drive mode.  Heading back through town, we reached zero-EV range at 36 miles (58 km) and averaged 65.2 mpg (3.6 L/100 km) for the total 38-mile (61-km) trip.

We found its performance and handling excellent and its infotainment system much easier to learn and use than Volvo’s other recent systems. Google voice recognition (unlike many others) worked well, and you can use it to do most everything from setting navigation destinations to entertainment system choices…or do things manually if you prefer. One complaint: when swung to the side, the sun visors don’t slide rearward to fully block sun along the window tops.

Our next-day drive in the C40 Recharge took us farther up the same mountain and back, then to a lunch stop at an EV-equipped “charge garage” that demonstrated what Volvo sees as a fuel-free future for homeowners. After that came a lot of slow city and suburban driving.

We started at an indicated 93% state of charge and finished at 48% over 88.4 total miles (142 km) at an average 34 mph (55 km/h) and a power usage rate of 38.6 kWh/100 miles (161 km). Interestingly, the nav system’s predictions of remaining range at each destination proved fairly accurate. As with the XC60 T8, we found the C40 Recharge’s infotainment system user friendly and its twisty two-lane handling surprisingly agile despite its heavy battery weight.

The U.S.-market C40 Recharge is offered in a single Ultimate trim level at $58,750. Among its standard features are an oversized, fixed panoramic moonroof, Pilot Assist (lane keeping and active cruise), Harman Kardon premium sound and a 360-degree Surround View Camera. Fjord Blue carpet is a no-charge option with four of seven exterior colors.

The included Convenient Care package includes service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance and home charging options, and all U.S. ’22 pure-electric Volvos come with 250 kWh of free charging on Electrify America’s network for the first three years. Customers will then be eligible for one year of Electrify America’s Pass+ courtesy of Volvo Car USA.

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