With a 2021 new car bingo card, the Volvo C40 Recharge would surely get you a full house. Electric? Check - it won't ever have a combustion engine. Swoopy SUV design? Of course. Leather-free interior? Tick. Android operating system? As if you had to ask. Online only sales? Bingo!
Joking aside, the C40 Recharge represents a far more significant product launch than the usual electric SUV reveal. Volvo softened the ground for its unveiling by confirming that all its cars will be electric by 2030. In addition to that, from now on all the EVs from Volvo - starting with the C40 - will only be available to buy online. Meaning we're less than a decade away, in theory, from all new Volvo sales happening virtually.
The logic is simple, believes Volvo: "We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do", said Lez Kerssemakers, Volvo's Head of Global Commercial operations. The premium electric sector is the fastest growing segment out there and Volvo wants to be a leader in it; with the past year having proved the relevance of an online sales model, it isn't hard to see how the pieces fell into place. The existing Care by Volvo subscription model will be expanded to offer a "complete convenient customer offering", with buyers set to choose from a range of pre-configured electric models for "simple and convenient ordering and quick delivery." Sounds so easy, right?
As for the car itself, much of it is familiar, from the CMA platform that's seen across the Volvo range to an exterior design clearly inspired by the Polestar 2. The C40 will be powered by a 78kWh battery and two electric motors, sufficient for 408hp and 487lb ft - exactly the same as the Polestar saloon and the XC40 Recharge. Like all Volvos, the C40 is limited to a 112mph top speed, with 62mph coming up in 4.9 seconds. Current range estimates suggest a WLTP maximum of 261 miles, a little way off the 2's claimed 292, though over-the-air updates are expected to improve that with time. DC charging of up to 150kw will also be possible in the C40.
As well as identical powertrains, both XC40 and C40 are similarly sized, the new car coming in at 4431mm long, 1582mm high and 2035mm wide including mirrors. The look is redolent of the Mustang Mach-E, but the Volvo is substantially shorter - think more along the lines of a slightly shorter Jaguar I-Pace in terms of scale. The very impressive Android-based infotainment as seen in the XC40 and Polestar 2 will also be standard equipment. Notable from the release is the mention of a high seating position "that most Volvo drivers prefer" and a completely leather-free interior.
"The C40 Recharge represents the future of Volvo and shows where we are going," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. "It is fully electric, offered online only with a convenient care package and will be available for quick delivery. Getting a new Volvo was never this attractive." The new car is going to be built alongside the XC40 Recharge in Ghent, and production will commence in the autumn. Given the more conventional SUV costs £60k in Britain, it seems likely that the lower, sleeker, sportier version might carry a premium. Get ready for (online) orders to open in a few months.
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