Setting Out

The Volvo C40 Recharge represents the first step on the Scandinavian brand’s electrification journey. And it’s a step which is as surefooted and accomplished as you’d anticipate from Volvo.

Jan 24, 2023

The Volvo C40 Recharge represents the first step on the Scandinavian brand’s electrification journey. And it’s a step which is as surefooted and accomplished as you’d anticipate from Volvo.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten quite used to hand-on-heart pledges from car companies vowing to abandon internal combustion in favour of full battery electric power across broad swathes of their respective model lines.

An assured headline grabber back in the day, those self-imposed deadlines are approaching fast. The end of this decade will be a pinch-point for many of the world’s leading manufacturers, but by and large there appear to be very few carmakers (certainly no volume players) who have stubbornly stated they’ll hang on to conventional fossil fuel engine tech beyond 2030.

In some respects, Volvo Cars’ has given itself one of the toughest mandates in the business.

By 2030, it plans for every car it sells to be pure electric. The Swedes aren’t alone in that mile marker of course, with several other premium manufacturers aiming for the same shut-off point.

But with Volvo, it’s the incremental steps along the way that are most interesting. Volvo has also stated it aims to make pure electric models 50% of its global sales by 2025, with the rest hybrid models. That’s three years from now. And that’s a lot of cars. But there’s more: Volvo also plans to launch a fully electric car every year along the way.

the XC40 Recharge already – Volvo’s plug-in version of its popular compact SUV. But now, we’ve also got something completely different. Something brand new to the range. And without fuss and fanfare, you can already buy it in New Zealand.

The car on these pages is the Volvo C40 Recharge. It’s based on the CMA vehicle platform shared with Polestar. Despite its subtly stylish but very conventional looks, it is a significant model in the Scandi brand narrative, being as it is the first Volvo model in history designed as a pure electric vehicle only.

The Volvo C40 Recharge will be offered as both a P6 single motor version (starting from $85,900 plus ORCs), and a P8 dual motor model (starting from $100,900 plus ORCs).

Other numbers? From a full charge the C40 has an electric range of 451km, and Volvo says it’ll take just 28 minutes to charge the P6’s battery from 10% to 80% at a DC rapid charge kiosk (or 40 minutes for the 78kWh battery in the P8). That’s a decent pace, and with 300kW of power onboard, the C40 is no slouch on the road either: acceleration from standstill to the ton (in the P8 iteration) is achievable in 4.7 seconds.

The C40’s abilities will get better over time as well, with over-the-air software updates improving aspects such as battery range and charge times remotely and mitigating the need to go into the dealership in the process. These updates are completed for the C40 owner as part of a four-year unlimited data plan offered by Volvo New Zealand.

On the road, the Volvo C40 Recharge is a bundle of fun to drive. That quick no-lag electric acceleration, coupled with the regenerative braking-assisted stopping ability when the driver lifts their foot makes for engaging ‘one pedal’ driving. It’ll take a few kilometres to get used to (and it’s a strange sensation to depress the accelerator when in reverse in order to back up), but after awhile it becomes intuitive and the C40 thoroughly responsive.

It also has an 1800kg braked towing capacity – a stat we’re starting to see attached to more pure electric vehicles, and one that’ll be an essential for many Kiwi drivers.

The interior of the C40 is a nice place to be. It’s spacious and has that usual contemporary minimalism that Volvo is so well regarded for across the board. A nice bit of detailing is the relief street map of Volvo’s home city of Gothenburg set into the door recesses and dashboard. It’s very subtle but showcases the attention-to-detail that you’d expect of a car from the manufacturer.

The C40 comes with an infotainment system jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system. If you’re plugged into the Googleverse, this will be especially useful, providing interaction with Google apps and services built directly into the car (such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store).

Harman Kardon sound, a 360° camera system, air purification system and all the Volvo-tastic safety tech you’d expect are to be found in both iterations of C40 Recharge too.

The first step on a long journey for this innovative brand is a surefooted one. It will be interesting to see where that journey takes Volvo over the next decade.