9 months with Volvo XC40 EV

9 months with Volvo XC40 EV

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Shirley and Bruce bought their twin/dual-engined, all-wheel-drive Volvo XC40 Recharge because they wanted to be environmentally friendly without screaming virtue signaling and ostentatious wealth. “We have decided not to buy an electric Mercedes,” they told me. The message Volvo is giving is that it cares about the environment in a subtle way. They didn’t get much money for trading in their 18-year-old Mazda6 Sport. “After all, it has covered 250,000 kilometers.” Why SUVs? Like all of us, Shirley has difficulty getting into lower vehicles (like my Tesla Model 3).

Shirley and her Volvo XC40 Recharge. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

They liked the Volvo’s build quality and safety credentials. They expect to get at least 400,000 kilometers of worry-free travel from it. They keep their 23-year-old Toyota RAV4 as a refuse vehicle, and Bruce also owns a Toyota Hilux for his work as an explosives industry regulator. Shirley is an accountant, so she has a keen eye for value.

Volvo XC40
Home shipping makes good economic sense. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Imagine spending your work week locating and detonating unexploded items! Bruce also investigates fireworks displays for safety as the State Government’s ‘Chief Inspector of Explosives’. The couple met when they were building and flying model rockets. When he told me his life story, I thought, “Wow, it’s like Special boy “Adventure.”

They had just returned from a trip to Cairns – more than 3,200km round-trip – and were impressed with the Volvo’s handling and ease of charging. There were the usual entertaining vignettes, though: the doctor on the phone who refused to move her electric Mercedes even though it had finished charging, for example. Sadly, Bruce didn’t have some leftovers from work to share with her. There was a Tesla driver who was unable to park the car and used up two charging places. Although, at least go on request.

Shipping etiquette is still evolving. Bruce’s key tip: “Always log into PlugShare, and when you have enough charge, jumpstart your car. It may not have to be at 100%.”

Shirley told me she was “weird” with China, so she didn’t consider a Tesla. She also says: “I didn’t want something that looked like a tic. Ever since the price of petrol reached $1 a liter (18 years ago according to government statistics), I had been looking for a way to avoid camper fraud. After the Mazda, the Volvo was a very easy and fun drive.

Volvo XC40
But Tesla has games! Photography by David Waterworth.

I found this Belgian-made Volvo on Facebook, before the Model Y arrived in Australia. At first, she had no expectations, but when she drove the car, she “shuddered with love.” After an enjoyable driving experience, I inquired about the price. She mixed it up with the petrol models, and when she was told it was A$20,000 more than she had expected, she exclaimed: “How do I get Bruce to agree?”

Bruce wanted to go green but admitted he had negative thoughts about the Volvo electric car until he drove it. After about 10 minutes, the question was: “Where do I sign?” Shirley told me the car looked like a bodybuilder dancing like a ballerina. It’s happy to show acceleration when taking off at lights, and has surprised some experienced youngsters with the instant response of an electric car. They see Volvo’s electric car as a way to future-proof their lifestyles and move away from petrol.

Her adult children work in construction, and were also skeptical of electric cars, until she let them drive them. Now they are looking forward to electrical appliances! It used to be thought that electric cars were just upgraded golf carts. “At Christmas time, they went for a drive and came back with their jaws on the floor! And the power was the thing. Bruce was in the car and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. The grandchildren were impressed too, although they probably watched too many YouTube videos.”

The Volvo has many desirable features, such as a retractable sunroof and sunroof, smart wrap-around headlights, heated side mirrors, and an auto-dimming screen. They have decided not to use dual top air conditioning glove boxes for the time being.

Bruce and I remember our first cars, when the radio was an aftermarket option!

Volvo aims to sell only battery-powered electric car models in Australia by 2026 (four years earlier than the company’s global plan). Sustainable luxury is one of their slogans. Stephen Connor, managing director of Volvo Car Australia, has plans to sell to “early adopters”. New car sales in Australia will average around 8% in 2023. In August, the Volvo XC 40 Recharge topped the charts at number four behind only the Tesla and BYD Atto 3.

Australia can expect to see two more fully electric models from Volvo next year, the EX90 large electric SUV and the EX30 small crossover. I expect the sub-AU$60,000 EX30 will sell very well and cement Volvo Australia’s position in the revolution. I expect a 2% share of the Australian market within two years. This would be double what was sold in 2022. (In December 2022, Volvo sold more electric cars than ICE.)

Volvo is on track to become the first OEM to switch from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric vehicles with small batteries. As part of this process, Volvo Australia is installing electric vehicle chargers at all of its dealerships. Free shipping will be available to Volvo owners, whether the car is purchased new or used – as Majella found when she visited the Brisbane dealership.

Volvo XC40
Volvo dealership in Brisbane. Photo courtesy Majella Waterworth.

Majella was impressed by the knowledge base of the sales staff. This is not always a common experience. The seller was even able to explain the differences in range depending on driving conditions.

No wonder Shirley and Bruce found it easy to switch to electric cars by purchasing a Volvo XC40. “At the age of 63, this was the first time I loved a car. Every time I get into a Volvo, I fall in love again. It’s like a secret thing, other people don’t realize how good electric cars are,” Shirley says excitedly. Majella and I encourage Shirley and Bruce to let others in on the secret!

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