Volvo’s C40 Recharge is a posh EV crossover that will only be sold online
The compact urban EV market has a new contender hailing from Sweden: Volvo’s all-electric C40 Recharge.
A swept-back roofline—and sole electric drivetrain—differentiates the C40 Recharge from the existing XC40, which wears a more upright silhouette and offers both internal-combustion and electric (in Volvospeak, “Recharge”) options. The C40 Recharge fits the trendy compact crossover recipe to a T: high beltline, fastback roofline, slick lighting details, large wheels, and an unashamedly tall rear end. In comparison to GM’s recently revealed Bolt EUV, however, the C40 Recharge succeeds in looking rather normal.
Those headlights, in case you were wondering, are no regular LED units; like its distant Polestar 2 relative, the C40 Recharge gets a pixel LED setup, in which multiple LEDs are connected to a single control chip.
At first glance, the interior styling and tech appears to deliver on the promise of chic exterior. Volvo’s pared-down aesthetic gives center stage to a dash-mounted screen, which will run an infotainment system developed along with Google and using an Android OS. We’ve sampled a fully-integrated Google system on the Polestar 2 and found it intuitive and highly capable, and that experience bodes well for the hip C40. Simple, understated chrome vents and door handles accent the grey-scale cabin, which will be leather-free to assuage Volvo’s corporate conscience. Based on the order sheet for Volvo’s V60 and V90 wagons, we expect those edgy Harman Kardon speakers to appear as a rather expensive option, though.
Powertrain details are limited as of this writing, but we know that the C40 Recharge will combine two electric motors, one on each axle, with a 78-kWh battery pack for an “anticipated” range of roughly 420 kilometers (or roughly 261 miles). Expect that figure to improve in subsequent years via over-the-air updates.
Though you’ll be able to pick up your C40 Recharge at a variety of locations—pop-up store, Volvo store, or dealership—in addition to specifying at-home delivery, you’ll only be able to buy a C40 Recharge online. Volvo’s convinced that the best way to sell its upcoming fleet of EVs is via a polished online experience that aims to streamline ordering by offering preconfigured models with preset pricing. (You’ll still be able to order a model “to your personal tastes” outside those predetermined specifications. However, we expect that you’ll sacrifice the efficient ordering process and timely delivery of the default system.)
Volvo’s also offering a “care package” to accompany each C40 Recharge, which includes service, warranty, roadside assistance, and options for insurance and home charging. Whether most customers will drink the Swedish Kool-Aid, or find it the most cost-effective option, remains to be seen.
Though it’s a far cry from the Volvos of our childhoods, the C40 Recharge is a timely reminder that cars fulfill many different roles. For some buyers, a car doesn’t exist to haul kids or to carve backroads—it exists as short-range, environmentally conscious, fashionable transportation. In such a role, the C40 Recharge looks like a promising candidate.