2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge First Look: The First-Ever Volvo EV

It's just the first of many electric Volvos to come.

Volvo isn't beating around the bush when it comes to climate change, saying mankind needs to change its ways to combat the environmental issues facing today's world. Cars in particularincluding, by Volvo's admission, its ownare primary contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions and resource depletion. But rather than suggest that we all stop driving entirely, Volvo is proposing a smarter, more holistic way. This new approach is better for the planet, sure, but Volvo is also banking on it adding to its own business—with a side benefit being the introduction of fun-to-drive vehicles. The first vehicle in that plan is the 2020 Volvo XC40 Recharge.

Sharing its name, sheetmetal, and general structure with the XC40 compact crossover, Volvo's first-ever EV is based on the Compact Modular Architecture that also can be found underneath the Polestar 2 and Lynk & Co's vehicles. In this EV version of the platform, a liquid-cooled 78-kWh battery pack is mounted between an electric motor on each axle, the tandem providing a stout 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque. Volvo claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.9 seconds for the XC40 Recharge, with a bit more than 200 miles of range available between charges.

In addition, structural enhancements surrounding the battery increase overall stiffness, while the weight of the pack itself lowers the center of gravity compared to a gas-fired XC40. That said, the conversion to all-electric power adds about 1,100 pounds to the weight of a comparable XC40 T5.

In terms of styling, it's practically identical to the haute-couture XC40. Of course there's no tailpipe, but the most notable change in design is the grille. As on most other electric vehicles on the market today, the traditionally open area—grilles are needed to cool combustion engines, after all—has been closed off with a solid panel to emphasize the absence of a conventional combustion engine. An open slit at the bottom allows a small amount of air through to cool the front motor, though, and Volvo's trademark diagonal grille bar is rendered in chrome.

The XC40's ultra-modern interior carries over to the Recharge, although a new Google-developed Android interface now powers the center screen. It offers additional connectivity between apps on an occupant's smartphone and the XC40 Recharge itself. As one example, when a destination is entered into Google Maps, the route plan takes into account the amount of turns, the elevation, and the ambient temperature to more accurately calculate the battery's remaining charge upon arrival. It will display charging stations along the way, too, as a way to minimize range anxiety. Onboard cameras and sensors also identify road signs and monitor traffic conditions, providing that data to Google to assist other users on any device. The system can be updated over the air, as well.

Unlike many other combustion-engine cars converted to EVs, the XC40 Recharge doesn't lose any interior volume. It actually offers more cargo space than a gas-powered XC40, as there's now a small frunk under the hood.

Volvo says it plan to roll out one new Recharge-branded all-electric vehicle every year through 2025. That will include a variant of the next three-row XC90 SUV, which is due to debut in 2021. In addition, Volvo will expand plug-in hybrids across its lineup. To incentivize buyers, Volvo says it will offer one year of free charging. To push harder in its efforts against climate change, Volvo is working with a battery supplier that uses recycled cobalt from consumer electronics, and the company has set a target of carbon neutrality in manufacturing by 2025, and as an entire brand by 2040.

The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge will go on sale in late 2020.

This story originally appeared on MotorTrend.

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