Brisbane Volvo dealership. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

9 Months With A Volvo XC40 EV

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Shirley and Bruce bought their dual/twin-motor Volvo XC40 Recharge, with 4 wheel drive, because they wanted to go green without screaming virtue signaling and ostentatious wealth. “We decided not to buy an electric Mercedes,” they told me. The message given by the Volvo is that they are environmentally conscious, in a subtle way. They didn’t get much money for trading in their 18-year-old Mazda6 Sport. “After all, it had done 250,000 km.” Why an SUV? Like all of us, Shirley is finding it harder to get into low-slung vehicles (like my Tesla Model 3).

Volvo XC 40
Shirley and her Volvo XC40 Recharge. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

They liked the build quality of the Volvo and its safety credentials. They expect to get at least 400,000 km of worry-free travel from it. They have kept their 23-year-old Toyota RAV4 as a dump vehicle, and Bruce also has a Toyota Hilux for his work as a regulator of the explosives industry. Shirley is an accountant, and so has a sharp eye for value.

Volvo XC 40
Home charging makes good economic sense. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Imagine spending your working week locating unexploded items and blowing them up! Bruce also investigates fireworks displays for safety as a “Senior Inspector of Explosives” for the state government. The couple met when they were building and flying model rockets. As he told me his life story, I thought, “Wow, it is just like a Boy’s Own adventure.”

They had just returned from a trip to Cairns — over 3200 km there and back — and were impressed with the Volvo’s handling and the ease of charging. Though, there were the usual amusing vignettes: the doctor on the phone who refused to move her electric Mercedes even though she had finished charging, for example. Sad that Bruce didn’t have some leftovers from work to share with her. And there was the Tesla driver who couldn’t park and used up two charging spaces. Though, at least he moved when requested.

Charging etiquette is still evolving. Bruce’s main piece of advice: “Always log into PlugShare, and when you have enough charge, move your vehicle. It might not need to be at 100%.”

Shirley tells me that she is “cranky” with China, so did not consider a Tesla. She also says: “I didn’t want something that looked like a tic tac. Ever since petrol hit $1 a litre [18 years ago according to government statistics], I have been looking for a way to avoid the ripoff at the bowser. After the Mazda, the Volvo is such an easy drive and so much fun.”

Volvo XC 40
But the Tesla has games! Photo by David Waterworth.

She stumbled across the Belgian-made Volvo on Facebook, prior to the arrival of the Model Y in Australia. Initially, she had no expectations, but when she drove the car, she “shook with love.” After an enjoyable test drive, she enquired about the price. She had confused it with the petrol models, and when she was told that it was AU$20,000 more than she expected, she cried: “How do I get Bruce to agree?”

Bruce wanted to go greener but confesses he had negative thoughts about an electric Volvo until he drove it. After about 10 minutes, it was: “Where do I sign?” Shirley tells me that the car is like a body builder who dances like a ballerina. She delights in showing off the acceleration when taking off at the lights and has surprised a few young rev-heads with the instant response of the EV. She sees the electric Volvo as a way of future proofing their lifestyles and getting away from petrol.

Her adult sons work in construction and were also skeptical of electric cars — that is, until she allowed them to drive it. Now they are looking forward to electric utes! Electric cars were thought to be just upgraded golf carts. “At Christmas time, they went for a drive and came back with their jaws on the ground! The power was the thing. Bruce was on the drive and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.” The grandkids were also impressed — though, they probably had seen lots of YouTube tube videos.

The Volvo has many desirable features, like the retractable blind and sunroof, the intelligent headlights that follow around corners, heated wing mirrors, and automatic screen darkening. They decided not to go with the double overhead air conditioned glove boxes, for now.

Bruce and I reminisced about our first cars, when a radio was an aftermarket option!

Volvo is aiming to sell only BEV models in Australia by 2026 (four years ahead of the global company’s plan). Sustainable luxury is one of their mottos. Volvo Car Australia’s managing director Stephen Connor has plans in place to sell to the “early adopters.” Australia is averaging about 8% of new vehicle sales being plug ins in 2023. In August, the Volvo XC 40 Recharge made the charts at number 4 behind only the two Teslas and the 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 that the EX30 at under AU$60,000 will sell extremely well and further propel Volvo Australia’s place in the rEVolution. I project 2% share of the Aussie market within 2 years. This will be double what was sold in 2022. (In December 2022, Volvo sold more EVs than ICE.)

Volvo is well on its way to becoming the first of the legacy OEMs to convert from Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) to small battery electric vehicles. As part of the process, Volvo Australia is installing electric car chargers at all of its dealerships. Free charging will be available to Volvo owners, whether the car was bought new or used — as Majella found when she visited the Brisbane dealership.

Volvo XC 40
Volvo’s Brisbane eealership. Photo courtesy Majella Waterworth.

Majella was impressed with the knowledge base of the sales people. This is not always a common experience. The salesman was even able to explain the variations in range depending on driving conditions.

No wonder Shirley and Bruce found it easy to transition to electric with their Volvo XC40 purchase. “At 63 it’s the first time I have ever loved a car. Every time I hop in the Volvo I fall in love again. It’s like a secret thing — other people don’t realise how good electric cars can be,” Shirley enthuses. Majella and I are encouraging Shirley and Bruce to let others in on the secret!

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 719 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth