Volvo’s new XC40 Recharge is its first ever fully electric car

Volvo has had a big hit with its small XC40 crossover. Very big. It has shifted almost 16,000 since it launched early last year – selling at a rate of 2,000 cars a month, it’s Volvo’s most successful model launch in the UK ever.

No surprise then that Volvo should choose this model as the platform to today introduce the new XC40 Recharge, the company’s first ever fully electric car and the first Volvo with the much-anticipated new infotainment system powered entirely by Google Android.

The XC40 Recharge’s electric all-wheel-drive powertrain will be good for more than 400km (WLTP drive cycle) on a single charge and output 408hp. The 78kWh battery charges to 80 per cent of its capacity in 40 minutes using a fast-charger system. It’s top speed is limited to 112mph.

Design-wise, for the XC40 Recharge, Volvo has understandably gone with an “if it ain’t broke” approach and not departed from the award-winning formula of the existing XC40. The most obvious differences between the current XC40 and the new model are a closed, solid grille at the front (full EVs do not require air ventilation like internal combustion engines do) and a space for additional luggage under the front bonnet where the traditional engine would have been.

While the XC40 Recharge is the first full EV from Volvo, more will follow. Over the next five years, the company states it will launch a full EV car every year, in an attempt to hit a target of making all-electric cars half of Volvo global sales by 2025, with the rest being hybrids of some stripe.

‘Recharge’ will now be Volvo’s sub-brand for all these coming chargeable cars, both full EV and hybrid. Every Volvo model in the range will include a Recharge option, from this first XC40 SUV, through the 60 Series, to the flagship XC90.

Pricing is yet to be announced, as is the launch date beyond simply next year. But to meet the anticipated demand for its EVs, Volvo will have to triple production capacity for its electrified cars.

The Swedish manufacturer announced back in 2017 that, from 2019, it would produce only three types of vehicles: pure electric, plug-in hybrids and “mild” hybrids (typically a car with a larger starter motor fitted with a 48V battery that takes power from regenerative breaking to deploy when next starting off).

For Volvo fans who don’t quite want to go full EV, an XC40 T5 petrol-electric plug-in hybrid will also launch in early 2020. The car will ride on a new platform also used on the 01, 02, and 03 models from Lynk & Co, another brand owned by Volvo’s parent company Geely.

Next year will be a big year for full-EV models, with the rate of releases from traditional car manufacturers increasing exponentially. They have had time to catch up with Tesla – which itself is bringing out its Roadster in 2020 – and will be rolling out production EVs in every price bracket.

Models already confirmed for 2020 release include the Polestar 2 from Volvo’s sister brand, the Audi e-tron GT, BMW iX3, Mini Electric, Porsche Taycan and Volkswagen ID.3. VW alone says it will produce 15 million vehicles based on its new ID hardware by 2028.

If you’re thinking of making the switch, here’s our guide to the best electric cars.

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