Volvo is pledging to go all-electric by 2030 and they’re starting with an SUV called the C40 Recharge. I took it on a test drive in Palm Springs and found it to be a fun, capable, and stylish way to ditch gas.
For starters, the C40 Recharge has a range of 226 miles, of course, the daily recommended charge limit is 90% of that to keep the battery happy, so expect about 200 miles of range each morning when you wake up if you charge overnight. That’s still plenty for most daily commutes and errands around town.
The car feels just as solid as you would expect from a Volvo, plus it’s fast and fun. The pickup felt snappy, and I appreciated the quiet interior.
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The infotainment system is powered by Google, which makes it super easy to control. Google Maps are familiar and excellent, with live traffic data continuously piped in. Two things I didn’t like: the Google home screen looks like an Android phone circa 2007 and there didn’t seem to be a way to see a split view of the maps along with information about the audio I was listening to.
These issues can always be addressed in a future software update – Volvo told me they plan to push out updates several times a year. Also, there is currently no CarPlay support, although it’s promised in a future update as well.
You can use Google Assistant to control many aspects of the audio, navigation and car functionality like heating and cooling.
“You don’t have to memorize any specific commands, you can speak naturally to google assistant, and i think that’s the key benefit, anybody can use it,” said Kristina Vasandi, a product manager at Volvo.
The C40 Recharge is Volvo’s first leather free car – in fact, there’s not even an option for leather at all. Volvo talked a lot about the sustainability factor in this vehicle, with a lot of the interior materials like the carpet and seats made from recycled materials, especially water bottles and wine corks.
In another first, the C40 Recharge will be sold online, but before you think Amazon easy, there is a catch. You can configure your car online but at the end of the day, the entire transaction must be completed through a local dealer, and that includes the final price. Not ideal.
Fully loaded, the C40 Recharge is about $59,000 and there aren’t a bunch of option levels. Volvo wanted to include most features for the price. That’s expensive, especially when compared to a similar gas SUV, but federal and local incentives will help. Volvo is still eligible for the full $7500 federal incentive and there are others on top of that.
“The new C40 is kind of at the low end of the luxury SUV range. And it’s going to compete directly with a lot of the mainstream similar vehicles, such as the Volkswagen ID4, Kia EV 6 and Hyundai Ionic 5,” said John M. Vincent, auto reporter at U.S. News & World Report. The C40 also goes up against the Tesla Model Y, which has a slightly higher pricetag and no incentives, but a much more robust charging infrastructure.
In fact, that’s the biggest downside of the C40 Recharge – recharging it. If you plan to install a charger at home, you’ll be fine for daily jaunts. It’s road trips that will prove a bit trickier.
Finding fast, reliable chargers on the road can be a challenge. They are there, but it’s not as easy as pulling into a Supercharging station, where fast speeds and quick charges are guaranteed.
The infotainment system on the C40 helps – it has EV charging information embedded in the mapping system. It even marks chargers as Fast or Slow.
Bottom line: if you’re going electric with a brand that’s not Tesla, you must be prepared for a bit of adventure. This space is rapidly evolving, and any EV driver will tell you that the whole charging situation is overhyped, especially if you’re mostly using the car as a daily driver and not going on crazy long road trips on a regular basis.
Even then, a bit of planning ahead goes a long way.
“Of course, it’s a lot of question marks, related to where you can charge, and people ask questions, but every change… every change you will look around, you will fly up you’re a little bit nervous, but we know it works and it’s extremely fun,” said Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Volvo USA.