Jaco Van Der Merwe
Head of Motoring
4 minute read
24 Mar 2022
9:43 am

Volvo has all bases covered in its electric revolution

Jaco Van Der Merwe

The powerful all-electric XC40 P8 can dart from 0 to 100 km/h in a lightning-fast 4.9 seconds.

The first local batch of Volvo XC40 P8's was sold out in days last year.

Volvo has set themselves the target of being a fully electric car company by 2030.

On a global scale, based on first-world trends, this is very doable. In South Africa, not so much, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the government is reluctant to incentivise the tax and duties on electric cars to make them more affordable.

Then there are concerns over the range these cars can travel on a single charge. And lest we forget, the constant power supply worries over Eskom and the dreaded L-word don’t bode well for promoting electric cars.

To bridge the considerable gap in moving from internal combustion power to full electric technology, Volvo Car South Africa is embracing hybrid technology as its local interim solution.

Volvo believes this strategy will afford its customers the opportunity to experience the three stages of vehicle electrification.

Of the Swedish carmaker’s revised local line-up of 31 derivates across five model ranges announced last week, one is fully electric and a further 22 are powered by hybrid technology.

Four of these are what is referred to as plug-in hybrids, while the other 18 feature mild hybrid technology.

The other eight derivatives that make up the total of 31 are powered exclusively by internal combustion petrol engines. Volvo does not offer diesel-powered cars anymore.

“In short, our completely renewed line-up covers all of the electrification bases,” said Greg Maruszewski, Managing Director of Volvo Car South Africa.

The Volvo XC90 T8 is the brand’s flagship SUV.

The only local model that the manufacturer still offers without any form of electrification is the XC40 compact SUV.

The T3, the gateway to the premium brand with a starting price of R654 442, gets its power from a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. In turn, its T4 and T5 siblings are powered by a 2.0-litre mill.

Completing the XC40 line-up is the R1 200 000 P8 Recharge – Volvo’s only full electric car available in South Africa.

The P8’s power comes from two electric motors, one on each axle, which produces a total of 300 kW of power and 660Nm of torque. This enables the car to reach 100 km/h from a standstill in a mere 4.9 seconds.

ALSO READ: Recharge switch shocks more power into Volvo XC90

The S90 sedan and the V90 Cross Country station wagon are only offered as mild hybrids.

These powertrains utilise a Kinetic Energy Recovery System which recuperates braking energy to charge a 48-volt battery.

In turn, an integrated starter generator utilises the energy recovered to support the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

While mild-hybrid technology does not allow full electric driving made possible in other dual-source power systems, it does enable lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The V90 and S90 are both offered in 183 kW B5 guise, with the S90 line-up also inclusive of a 220 kW B6 offering.

The XC60 medium SUV and XC90 large SUV both offer more affordable B5 and B6 designations with similar outputs, with the impressive plug-in hybrid T8 Recharge sitting atop both model ranges.

Featuring an increase in electric power over the outgoing T8, the T8 Recharge is the most powerful production Volvo ever built.

The 65 kW electric motor that served on the T8 has been replaced by a 107 kW version. The T8 Recharge’s battery pack is rated at 18.8-kWh compared to the 11.6-kWh unit that served on the T8.

Combined with the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, all Volvo’s T8 Recharge derivatives now produce a total of 340 kW of power and 709 Nm of torque, which is 40 kW and 69 Nm more than the T8.

The power is sent to all four wheels via the eight-speed Geartronic transmission. The XC90 T8 Recharge can get from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds, while boasting a range of 77 km.

Featuring the same running gear but weighing in lighter than its bigger sibling, XC60 T8 Recharge derivatives need only 4.8 seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standstill and has a range of 81km.

Every car in Volvo’s entire line-up is limited to 180 km/h, while every derivative except for the XC40 P8 is mated to the eight-speed Geartronic ‘box.

Volvo believes plug-in hybrids are perfect for local confitions.

Maruszewski believes that the current climate in South Africa makes the T8 plug-in hybrids very attractive offerings.

The XC60 and XC90’s respective electric ranges of 81 and 77 km are more than the average South African commuter travels in a day. And in addition to that, their 70 and 71-litre respective fuel tanks enable care-free long-distance travelling.

These offerings do come at a premium though, with the XC60 T8 starting at R1 218 900 and the XC90 T8 at R1 560 100.

“Plug-in hybrids just make so much sense in South Africa,” says Maruszewski.

“The electric range should in most cases be enough to cover the daily distance the average commuter travels. By charging the car overnight, the process can be repeated the next day.

“In case the battery runs out due to unforeseen circumstances or should you need to travel longer distances, then you have the added benefit of an internal combustion engine and fuel tank.” P

Plug-in hybrid models accounted for 28% of Volvo’s global sales in the fourth quarter of 2021.

For more information on the Volvo range, click here.