Volvo’s proud boast is that if you want to buy one of their cars, from now on you will be asked: ‘Would you like one with or without a plug?’
The Swedish maker, now owned by China’s Geely, is driving hard towards electricification (its ‘Pure’ mode) and to have a plug-in hybrid or fully electric option across its entire range.
And it’s largely achieved that goal with its smart new XC40 compact family SUV, which I’ve just driven.
Civilised and economical: Volvo’s XC40 Recharge family SUV can average almost 140mpg
In the industry’s jargon-heavy lingo, the XC40 Recharge T5 is known as a PHEV — a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A fully electric version, due at the turn of the year, will be a BEV or a battery electric vehicle.
The one I drove is powered by a 180hp, three-cylinder inline 1,477cc petrol engine linked to a 82 hp electric motor and an automatic seven-speed gearbox.
It can accelerate to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds up to a top speed of 127 mph. But Volvo is limiting all newly ordered cars to 112 mph for safety.
A full charge using the fast-charge cable stored handily under the lift-up floor of the rear hatchback boot takes 2½ hours. An hour less than on a domestic three-pin plug.
In the industry’s jargon-heavy lingo, the XC40 Recharge T5 is known as a PHEV — a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A fully electric version is due at the turn of the year
Used correctly with regular charges, this car should slash your fuel bills, averaging up to 139.4 mpg, with CO2 emissions of up to 55g/km, despite a 48-litre fuel tank.
However, some customers simply order them to take advantage of their low road tax and company car tax rates, never bothering to charge them.
A full charge on the Pure setting gets you a maximum of 28 miles of silent, zero emissions. And there’s always the comfort blanket of a tankful of fuel to get you home.
Used correctly with regular charges, this car should slash your fuel bills, averaging up to 139.4 mpg, with CO2 emissions of up to 55g/km, despite a 48-litre fuel tank
I drove the upmarket ‘R-Design’, which accounts for about 30 per cent of sales. It’s civilised, especially when gliding around feeling smug in pure mode, with sufficient oomph in hybrid mode on motorways.
Prices start at £40,905.
Solar charge stations to open this year
The first of a £1 billion nationwide network of more than 100 Electric Forecourts using solar power is to open this summer near Braintree in Essex.
It claims to be the UK’s first custom-built electric charging station.
The first of a £1 billion nationwide network of more than 100 Electric Forecourts using solar power is to open this summer near Braintree in Essex
The company behind the network, Gridserve, says it will charge 24 electric vehicles at once with ‘superchargers’ that deliver up to 350kW of power, allowing motorists to charge their vehicles within 20 to 30 minutes while they take a break.
It aims to have a full UK-wide network operational within five years. It follows the Government’s announcement that it plans to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles within 15 years, and possibly as soon as 12.
The project has been backed by a £4.8 million grant from Innovate UK.
While vehicles charge, drivers can opt to relax over coffee and cake or shop in a two-storey building, which includes a supermarket and an airport-style lounge with access to high-speed internet.
Chancellor’s slight of hand
Pothole buster: Chancellor Rishi Sunak
The Chancellor giveth and taketh when it comes to motorists. A £2.5 billion five-year programme will ‘eradicate the scourge of potholes in every part of the country’, said Rishi Sunak, pictured.
Fuel duty and insurance premium tax have been frozen and £27 billion is being invested in motorways and major roads including the A417, the A1 north of Newcastle, A303 and A46.
Sunak also committed £403 million to extend plug-in car grants out to 2023.
But there’s a sting in the tail in that the grants have been cut by £500 from £3,500 to £3,000, down from £5,000 when introduced nine years ago.
Models costing £50,000 or more, such as Teslas, no longer qualify at all.
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