As the first “mainstream” automaker to commit to going to an all-electric lineup in 2017, when the company announced that all new vehicles introduced from 2019 onward would have an all-electric variant, Volvo was one of the leaders of the current EV transition. Currently, every Volvo sold in North America and Europe is either a hybrid or BEV model, and the company has a long established history of leading the charge when it comes to emissions controls and recycling, as well as the use of sustainable and cruelty-free interiors.
Without further ado, then, let’s get to the C40 Recharge — a model that is only available as a BEV.
Birth of the BEV
Volvo daughter/sister company Polestar started the fully electric journey of the brand with the Polestar 2. Now the C40 and XC40 Recharge models have the customary long delivery times that all great BEVs share. The XC40 was #2 on the consolidated list of best sellers in 10 leading European countries in Q4 2022, behind only the Tesla Model Y. The C40 was #10.
- Single Motor — 175/185kW and 420Nm rear-wheel drive.
- Battery — 67kWh/78kWh with about 215/248.5 miles of range.
- Dual Motor — 300kW and 670Nm all-wheel drive.
- Battery — 78kWh with about 240 miles of range.
- Charging — 150/200kW DC and 11kW AC.
- Safety: Euro NCAP ***** (5 stars)
- Length * Width * Height — 174.8” * 73.7” * 62.8”
The C40 is available in three trim levels and with three drivetrains. But not all combinations are possible. The base trim is only available with a single motor, and the dual motor is only available with the larger battery.
I wonder why there are two battery options with so little difference in capacity. The marketing drones of Volvo will have a perfectly good explanation for this that I will not be able to comprehend. I never understood marketing logic.
What will make many people happy: this Volvo does have a frunk!
The standard audio setup has 8 speakers. The optional Harman Kardon has 13 plus a subwoofer. Most important with both: they have an OFF button.
The lifecycle CO2 equivalent is 27 tons when charged with renewable energy and 50 tons when using the average global energy mix. The comparable XC40 ICE contributes 59 tons to the greenhouse layer over its lifetime. That the difference is not larger is because the electric drivetrain with the battery increases CO2 from production by 11 ton. (Recycling or reuse of the battery materials is probably not taken into account, even though it should be.)
Cleaning up battery production — with, for example, dry electrode processes — is one of the main goals the industry is now facing.
For details on many more options and functions, please visit the dealer’s webpage.
One-pedal driving. Let us not call it the “gas” or “gas pedal” any longer. Calling it the accelerator is too long a word that does not fully cover the function. In modern electric cars, it is the speed pedal — you control the speed with it. When you hit it, the car accelerates; when you release it, the car decelerates. It can decelerate using the resistance of the motor or more so by applying the brakes.
I really got thinking about this in the Volvo C40. Volvo has developed one-pedal driving to near perfection. The company uses it as its primary sales argument when putting new electric drivers behind the wheel for a test drive. And judging by Volvo’s success in the market, this argument works for many buyers.
During the test drive, I was so wowed by the one-pedal-driving system that I did not pay much attention to normal test drive parameters. But as I have said before, with the high torque, gearless instantaneous power supply, and low center of mass in the center of the car, the designer must be a complete idiot to screw up and EV. The driving characteristics are way better than in a comparable ICEV.
Comparing to other electric cars, they all are better than most drivers will ever realize. We will just never reach the boundaries of the capabilities of the car.
There can be differences in the sound insolation, or in the dimming of the sun’s heat through the panoramic roof. But that is to everybody’s individual taste.
Infotainment and Driving Assist
I already swooned over the one-pedal driving. The other functions are as great. The lane keeping support worked nicely. The blind spot warning was there when I needed it. I did not test collision avoidance and emergency braking — I hope never to experience how well those systems work in modern cars. Those are tests I leave to the NCAP testers.
What did surprise me was the behavior of the cruise control. It is fully adaptive stop-and-go cruise control. When approaching a red traffic light with cars waiting, it stopped, and then started driving again on green. Fantastic! But at the next red light, it just kept going. I was fouled by thinking it reacted to traffic lights, it was just the stop-and-go function of the cruise control that handled the previous red light. But that was my bad, a mistake not to make again.
The sound system did have an OFF switch — that is all I care about. With the sound machine off, it was enjoyably quiet in the car. Just as I like it.
It has the complete set of Google Maps and assistant features. I don’t know whether this is the same as, or more than, Android Auto offers. For those addicted to their iPhone, it can switch to Apple CarPlay.
The only of those functions that I used was the route planner. There were no surprises — it just knew where I was, where I wanted to go, and how to get there.
The climate control did what it was supposed to do without requiring any attention. Great.
The seats are probably very safe. It is a Volvo. But they also have excellent side support (i.e., high flanks beside your thighs). Getting in and out of the car over the high side supports of the car did hurt. I prefer a flat seating plane.
With the towing capacity of 750kg unbraked and 1500kg/1800kg (twin motor) braked, it is very capable for more than commuting and grocery getting. This car may be one of the best BEVs for family trips and holidays.
There is also a rumor that a smaller version is in the make. I would love to see a C30/CX30, or even better a C20/CX20, appear as a candidate for my next car.
Here are a few more pics I took of the fully electric Volvo C40 Recharge:
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