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Eskom stopping you from going electric? Volvo has the solution

Lifestyle

Eskom stopping you from going electric? Volvo has the solution

Plug-in hybrid concept would be the best solution to SA’s challenges with power supply, says company MD

Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
The XC40 P8 Recharge is Volvo's first pure electric vehicle.
The XC40 P8 Recharge is Volvo's first pure electric vehicle.
Image: Supplied

Volvo is aiming for an all-electric model range by 2030. In our market, we are already seeing the transition towards that goal. Earlier this month the automaker released three additions for SA consumers in the premium-car space.

We had the opportunity to get close to them at a recent event. The MD of the company, Greg Maruszewski, did not shy away from the glaring issues facing the country in terms of electricity supply. Considering this challenge, he is of the view that the plug-in hybrid concept would be the best solution at present for buyers eyeing electric mobility.

The XC90 T8 Recharge is a powerful plug-in hybrid with a decent electric range.
The XC90 T8 Recharge is a powerful plug-in hybrid with a decent electric range.
Image: Supplied

He also noted that our local manufacturing industry needed to adapt. “Government needs to do something in the next few years, or we risk losing production for global markets making the transition towards electric vehicles,” he said. From 2023 Volvo will no longer offer diesel engine offerings. By 2040, the automaker hopes its entire value chain will be climate neutral.

Locally, the biggest news is the arrival of the XC40 Recharge, the first full-electric model to come from the Swedish manufacturer. Pricing starts at R1,2m. The on-paper credentials are impressive. It uses two electric motors offering a combined output of 300kW and 660Nm. That makes for a rapid 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.9 seconds. Combined urban and freeway-driving range is estimated at 418km. We are expecting to sample the vehicle for a more in-depth report at a later stage.

The XC60 and XC80 T8 Recharge derivatives are next up on the agenda. In each model, we enjoyed a brief stint around Sandton and its surrounds. First up was the large XC90. It costs R1,560,600. The 1,969cc turbocharged-petrol heart it uses (four-cylinder) produces 228kW and 400Nm.

Assisting the engine is a lithium-ion battery powering an electric motor that delivers 107kW and 309Nm. It can travel on electric power alone for up to 73km. In fact, our test drive was exclusively on electric propulsion, not requiring intervention from internal combustion. In slow traffic conditions, the fuel-saving (and environmental) benefits of a hybrid become especially clear. This is a scenario in which a regular car would be idling wastefully.

The XC60 T8 Recharge makes better sense than the XC90 equivalent, as it uses the same powertrain.
The XC60 T8 Recharge makes better sense than the XC90 equivalent, as it uses the same powertrain.
Image: Supplied

Unless the extra space of an XC90 is a must, the XC60 T8 Recharge will offer the same benefits, for less. It costs upwards of R1,218,900. Outputs for both the engine and electric motor are identical to those of the XC90. But it has a slightly longer claimed electric-only range of 78km. This time, we opted to apply the throttle with a little more conviction, to prompt the awakening of the petrol engine. With both systems working in tandem, the XC60 is no slouch, dashing from standstill to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds.

The only vehicles that remain without electrification of some variety in the Volvo range are the S90 and V90 Cross Country. Both offerings are slow sellers in any case. If you are not yet sold on plug-in hybrid technology, or full-electric vehicles for that matter, you can still opt for the more affordable, regular derivatives of the XC40, XC60 and XC90. They are priced from R654,500; R750,000 and R1,237,000 respectively.

CORRECTION, APRIL 10 2022: Having adopted the latest mild hybrid, B-engine configurations that feature in the XC60 and XC90, the S90 and V90 Cross Country ranges are in fact electrified.



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