Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart ci
Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart cities, and the future of alternative energy sources like electric batteries, solar, and hydrogen.
I’m not a car person.
You know, car people. Driving a car is a big part of their psyche and something that seriously brings them joy. They wax lyrical about the shape of a car rear end, or the wheel hubs. It’s part of their identity — they go for long road trips, join car clubs, visit car shows, and build model cars in their spare time.
I am not one of these people, but I am passionate about mobility, particularly accessible mobility. I like writing about technical innovation, and I get wildly excited about V2E technology and the data economy of cars.
Somehow, I found myself on a press trip in Brussels, to review the Volvo C40 Recharge, Volvo’s first all-electric car.
The Volvo C40 has great power and range
The Volvo C40 has a setup identical to the XC40 Recharge with a small increase in power. – Volvo states a 0-to-96kmph time of 4.5 seconds, a couple of tenths quicker than the XC40.
The propulsion consists of twin electric motors, one on the front and one on the rear axle. It’s powered by a 78kWh battery that can be fast-charged to 80% in about 40 minutes at 150kW.
The car offers an anticipated range of around 420 km (225 miles) which is slightly better than the XC40. You can expect improvements over time, via over-the-air software updates.
Why not make cars vegan?
I can tell you about the car’s rather fetching Fjord Blue color, “inspired by the deep inlets on the Scandinavian west coast.” Or about the back lit translucent graphics on the dashboard and door panels, “a nod to the dramatic, yet serene mountain sceneries in Sweden’s Abisko national park.”
But I’m more excited that Volvo aims to become a fully circular business by 2040.
This is a luxury car with green credibility. By 2030, Volvo Cars aim to sell only fully electric cars, one of the most ambitious electrification strategies in the car industry. It also aims to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.
The car design is green. Specifically, the interior is leather-free. Recycled materials such as PET bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests, and corks from the wine industry turn into textiles. If tires are made out of dandelions, why not green textiles?
This sets a new standard for interior design.
By 2025, Volvo aims for 25% of the material in new Volvo cars to comprise of recycled and bio-based content. It also aims for all its immediate suppliers, including material suppliers, to use 100% renewable energy by 2025.
For those who just can’t cope (seriously, you need to take a look at yourselves) Volvo Cars will offer wool blend options from certified ethical suppliers.
Ok, but the Volvo C40 is a good looking car
If you want a car that people will compliment, the C40 has you covered. Passers-by even stopped and asked questions and took photos of the car. There are some cute quirks like funky animated LED taillights and a panoramic sunroof. But I’m more interested in the tech:
Volvo C40 introduces a new kind of hypermiling: Range Assistance
The company recently released a new Range Assistant in-car app in beta. It helps drivers get a clear and accurate sign of the estimated remaining driving range and real-time energy consumption. Be gone, range anxiety!
For example, a range optimizer functionality in the app can adjust the heating/cooling of the car to improve driving range. This will be especially helpful on longer trips as it reduces the need for charging stops. The dashboard also tracks the amount of charge you’ll have upon reaching your destination, making your journey easier to plan.
Future advancements in the app will include recommendations on how to adjust driving style and speed to maximize range. It’s the evolution of hypermiling.I think we can expect to see more of this through OTA updates across a range of OEMs.
Fellow drivers praised the one-pedal drive. This is a feature in many plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). It enables you to stop and go using just the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. This is possible through the regenerative braking systems.
It extends the EV driving range as well as the general brake life. However, it requires some skill in judging distance and timing — this function isn’t designed for making an emergency stop.
Driver assistance systems
Volvo’s driver assistance system is cool. It provides audible, visible, and brake pulse warnings upon detecting cars, bikes, or pedestrians unexpectedly. If a collision is imminent, the car can brake automatically.
If you’re about to cross a lane marking without an indicator, the lane-keeping aid steers your car back. If you keep steering across the lane markings, vibrations in the steering wheel alert you.
Run-off road mitigation operates at speeds between 65 kmph and 140 kmph. It helps prevent you from accidentally leaving the road. If you stray across the outer lane marking, it will help you steer the car back on the road.
Driving assist also helps with reversing out of parking. There’s also a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with steer assist. When a vehicle enters your blind spot or approaches rapidly, you’re alerted via a light in the left or right door mirror.
Infotainment keeps you connected
The Volvo C40 comes with a great infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system. Google Assist even turns on the seat warmers and Google Maps tells you where to find the next EV charging station.
However, there are a few downsides to the car. The car’s rear visibility isn’t great, as the rear window is quite small. Back seat passengers are basically sitting above the battery modules in stadium-style seating. If you’re tall, you might hit your head on the roof.
Are car salesrooms a thing of the past? The Volvo C40 is only available online — although buyers can place an order with a physical retailer if desired. The price starts at $59,845 USD with orders open for 2022.
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