New Volvo XC40 electric revealed

Volvo XC40 Recharge revealed, as Swedish carmaker rolls out new sub-brand for its plug-in cars

The Volvo XC40 Recharge – the Swedish carmaker’s first electric car – has been revealed, joining the plug-in hybrid variant that launched in September, as well as petrol and diesel versions, in the model’s line-up.

The electric XC40 features a 78kWh battery, returning 248 miles of range from a single charge. Volvo says a full top-up from an 11kW, Type 2 home wallbox will take less than eight hours, while a 0-80% charge from a 150kW CCS rapid charger should take around 40 minutes.

With an electric motor on each axle providing four-wheel drive, the XC40 Recharge will produce 402bhp and 660Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-62mph is expected to take 4.9 seconds.

Prices have yet to be confirmed, but Volvo says it'll entice customers with a swathe of financial incentives. The company has tripled its production capacity for electric and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars in order to meet the anticipated demand.

Meanwhile, the Recharge sub-brand will be rolled out across Volvo’s plug-in range, encompassing its existing PHEVs and all future electric vehicles.

It plans to launch five battery-electric cars in the next five years, and is aiming for 50% of its sales to be accounted for by fully electric vehicles by 2025.

The electric XC40 will go on sale early next year, with the first customer deliveries due in the latter stages of 2020. Buyers will get a choice of eight exterior colour options, with a black contrasting roof as standard. Either 19 or 20-inch alloy wheels are also available.

Robin Page, Volvo’s head of design, says the electric XC40 will be “even sleeker”, with a new, closed-off grille giving the car a “cleaner and more modern face”. Page added: “This is the approach we will explore more and more as we continue down the road of electrification.”

Recharge branding on C-pillar will also help drivers differentiate between plug-in and internal combustion versions on the road.

Inside, a new driver interface displays the battery status and remaining range, with sporty design details and carpets made from recycled materials among the promised interior changes.

Volvo says the car’s layout will allow it to introduce more storage space in the doors and under the seats, while a fold-out hook for bags and a removable waste bin will also be included. With the internal combustion engine making way for an electric motor, a 30-litre storage compartment – sometimes referred to as a ‘frunk’ – will be introduced under the bonnet.

Volvo XC40 Recharge interior

The interior inside the Volvo XC40 Recharge will be carried over from the existing line-up, with the exception of a new, Android-based infotainment system. Volvo claims the XC40 will be the first vehicle to feature such technology.

The system will use technology and services developed by Google, with the aim of “reducing driver distraction” and offering “improved levels of intuitiveness”.

Google Assistant will provide voice control of the sat nav, temperature control and in-car media, while Google Maps will use real-time traffic data to avoid congestion. Additional apps will be available to download through the Google Play Store.

“We are finally giving you the same experience in your car that you’re used to on your phone, but adapted for safe interaction while driving,” said Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer.

“And by introducing over-the-air updates for everything from maintenance to completely new features, the car can stay as fresh as your other digital products, always with the latest and greatest features.”

Meanwhile, the company says its new infotainment system will integrate its Volvo On Call platform, which allows drivers to monitor charging sessions remotely, as well as preheat their cars before journeys.

Safety

Volvo’s head of safety Malin Ekholm says the electric XC40 will be “one of the safest cars we have ever built. The fundamentals around safety are the same for this car as for any other Volvo. People are inside, and the car needs to be designed to be safe for them.”

To that end, Volvo has completely redesigned the front end of the XC40 to cope with the absence of an internal-combustion engine. Elsewhere, the manufacturer has devised an aluminium cage to protect the car’s battery in the event of a collision. This helps create a crumple zone around the cells, which – as is normal in an electric car – are located under the floor.

Volvo says this has the added benefit of reducing the risk of the vehicle rolling over in an accident. The back of the electric XC40 has been reinforced, too: the company says that the “electric powertrain has been integrated with the body structure” to help direct collision forces away from the cabin and any passengers inside.

New active safety technology is also promised, with the electric XC40 set to be the first Volvo to benefit from the firm’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) package.

It features several radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors, which Volvo claims will "lay the foundation for the future introduction of autonomous drive technology".