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South Africa's foremost electric mobility platform

  • Writer's pictureIan McLaren

Volvo includes two all-electric models within its plans for the South African market

Including a novel customer care programme aimed at easing the transition into EV ownership.

Early adopters of supplementary electric propulsion within its modern portfolio of vehicles, Volvo Cars is preparing for an exciting period in its history as it targets 100% EV sales by 2030. Indeed, so rapid has been the uptake of all-electric vehicles in this Swedish brand’s traditionally strongest markets that it has now brought the foundation work on e-mobility done to date by subsidiary brand Polestar, in-house. Confirmed at a recent product presentation in Sandton, the brand currently has only two vehicles within its 13-car local line-up – the XC40 T3 and T4 – that don’t feature electrification in some form within their respective drivetrains. While many of its products have to date included a 48V mild-hybrid battery system providing supplementary power to systems like start/stop, new innovations in battery technologies have allowed for the introduction of altogether more convincing plug-in hybrid derivatives compared with previous attempts. Available in XC60 and XC90, these T8 badged models can drive in purely electric mode for up to 77 km before a 2.0-litre turbopetrol motor takes over. A three-layer 18.8 kWh battery can be charged via either a standard wall plug, a home-installed wall charger or, indeed, at a public charging facility.

An exciting prospect in terms of all-electric mobility is the introduction of two XC40 Recharge derivatives. Dubbed P6 and P8, these models combine the charm and sophistication of the award-winning XC40 package with latest-generation EV drivetrain technology. Each fitted with a 69 kWh battery, the P6 derivative features a single electric motor positioned on the front axle. Offering 170 kW and 330 N.m of torque, this “entry-level” EV offers plucky performance and an operating range of up to 423 km between charges.

In gaining an additional electric motor power to power the rear wheels, the XC40 P8 Recharge Twin boasts 300 kW and 660 N.m of torque, as well as a pseudo-all-wheel-drive drivetrain. Volvo claims this derivative will launch from standstill to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds, while offering an operating range of up to 418 km.

Both the P6 Recharge and P8 Recharge Twin can drive in a “one pedal” mode that all-but eliminates the need to use the brake pedal. Working in tandem with the vehicle’s regenerative braking technology, the driver can both accelerate and decelerate using only the position of the throttle pedal.

Each offered with a comprehensive list of matching standard specification, there's very little that tells these two derivates apart on the road. Included within the XC40's updated interior is the brand's new Google-based infotainment system that incorporates such voice-activated features as Google Play Store, Google Maps and Google Assistant.

Volvo Cars South Africa views its updated plug-in hybrid solution as a viable stopgap in our markets transition towards all-electric motoring. Yet the brand is also excited by the prospect of offering two EV derivates at what it hopes will prove compelling respective retail prices. While pricing for the P6 is yet to be confirmed, the impressively capable P8 Recharge Twin is priced from R1 200 000.

Included within the brand’s updated customer car programme is both the installation of a home wall charger and standard 5-year maintenance plan, but also the use of a combustion engine XC40 for a period of two weeks per year, for the first three years of ownership. This is designed to offer piece-of-mind to owners’ keen to travel longer-than-usual distances to, for example, an annual holiday destination.

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