As we originally thought, poor communication from government types or lectures from elites on how it’s all better for you isn’t pushing people towards electric cars more than market fundamentals. You could say that government arm twisting has come more in the way of a concerted effort to rub out the fossil fuel industry but that’s a discussion for another day.
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Gas price are at record levels. “Putin’s War” is what U.S. president Joe Biden likes to reference in what has become a tedious exercise in blame game for the reasons behind the economic sinkhole we now find ourselves in. Still, if the objective was to ramp up the electric car industry by impoverishing the vast majority of people relying on gas-powered cars, it seems to be working. There are people in power who want you ditching your old vehicle and hopping into an electric car by next Thursday.
Car manufacturers have really entered the fray though, with more and more quality offerings that make it easier to wean yourself off the internal combustion engine. The mainstream is catching up to the Teslas of the world, fast. Those gas prices are now pushing $5 per gallon in the U.S., 209.0 per litre across Canada. So the “pros” of owning an electric car are starting to outweigh the “cons”. Bye-bye high fuel costs, more choice and better technology, lower maintenance costs, a growing network of charging stations, government subsidies to help offset the higher costs of electric cars, are all factors now. Then there’s Mother Earth – greenhouse gas emissions are rising, causing climate change, and transportation is the big cause of that.
More reasons to buy an electric car
We are also indirectly subsidizing energy-rich nations with connections to human rights violations but have the pockets to fund new pro golf tours offering players nine-figure signing bonuses. That’s an argument to switch to EVs, isn’t it? I have no problems with any individual taking their services to the highest bidder. But that Saudi Arabia-backed pro golf tour makes me want to take a shower after watching it or reading about it.
Which is the longer road of bringing us back to what Volvo is doing with their line of fully electrified SUVs. I took the more compact 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge Ultimate AWD out for a spin. Very honestly, for a lover of classic cars, this was yet another luxury EV that once again whittled down any previous issues I’ve had with electrification. Volvo is fully in, with a line of hybrids and pure electric offerings. The Swedish automaker has big plans to cut back its carbon emissions per vehicle this decade.
I just paid $160 to fill up a Lincoln Navigator with gasoline. So driving the XC40, I whistled past the corner Esso station without a care. No doubt some day that gas station will be replaced by another condo development.
Keyless ignition, plenty of horsepower
There will be a bit of adjustment when you climb in to the XC40. There’s no key ignition or start button. With the key fob, you put your foot on the brake, put the vehicle in drive and go. After that it won’t be long before you feel more at home. The XC40 has 359 kms of pure electric range. Range anxiety wasn’t an issue during the week I had it, since I only drove it around the city. Regenerative braking means every time you stop at a light or stop sign it’s an opportunity to recharge the battery. One-pedal drive mode means the car slows then comes to a complete stop when you take your foot off the accelerator.
The SUV comes with an 11 kW onboard charger but it will take forever to charge it up with a standard 110-volt outlet, like we have in our condo garage. If you can find a fast-charge station you can go from zero to 80 per cent in 40 minutes, we are told. Use your smartphone to monitor charging progress while you run errands.
Really, ask yourself what you want out of a luxury vehicle. Unless you’re at an income level where you’re oblivious to where gas prices are, you want to get someplace with a high level of comfort as quickly as possible, cost effectively. There’s an electric motor on each axle of the Volvo XC40, powering the front and rear wheels. With a speed limit 180 km/h, 402 hp, 486 lb. ft. torque, 78 kWh battery, that’s plenty of pep for outside the city core (0 to 100 km/h in less than five seconds).
And that premium interior scored for me on many levels, particularly for its minimalism – including a very clean and slick 12.3-inch driver display (very clear, simplistic, just the information you need, like energy recovery display), 9-inch touch screen centre display, 4-way lumbar support on the seats, mechanical cushion extension on the front seats. The price point is $74,300 for the vehicle I drove. Again, the jump to an electric car, especially in the luxury category, is going to be costly. And the return on your investment, including a used electric car market, is largely an unknown. Did we mention savings in fuel?
Volvo XC40: Battery Electric Vehicle with 78 kWh Lithium-ion Battery
The Volvo XC40 has all the driver safety benefits. There’s decent size in the boot, including an area where you can slide longer items through the back row seating. Heated seats, USB ports and plenty of leg and head room in the back row. The panoramic sunroof benefits people in the back row as much as the two people seated up front. LED reading lamps are activated by touch control. On the technology end, drivers can access Google Assistant, so you can ask it questions about directions or battery range.
Stylish and modern, the XC40 is Volvo’s first fully electric vehicle. Ours was in Glacier Silver, with the roof rails in glossy black, with Charcoal Leather, Nubuck interior. A cool feature was in front, where the grill has been replaced by an aerodynamic panel, with a storage compartment. A Harmon Kardon premium sound system is a must-have for the luxury car buyer. If this first fully electrical vehicle for Volvo is any indication, we look forward to seeing what comes down the road next.