Exclusive look at the first electric Volvo in South Africa – TopAuto
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Friday / 27 May 2022
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Exclusive look at the first electric Volvo in South Africa

Volvo South Africa recently invited TopAuto to take a look at the first XC40 P8 Recharge in the country – and it’s impressive.

This electric SUV was unveiled in mid-2021 and went on sale for R1.2 million on the Volvo online store, and the first 15 units sold out within days.

Volvo told us that it succeeded in securing additional units and ended up selling roughly 30 P8s in South Africa in 2021 – although the exact figure was not provided.

Only one cancellation took place thus far, but this spot was quickly filled again by one of the many customers on the electric Volvo’s waiting list.

The order books for the next batch of P8s will open later in 2022, with the ongoing chip crisis being the main factor determining the number of available units, said Volvo.

While we weren’t allowed to drive the electric XC40 yet, the managing director of Volvo Car South Africa Greg Maruszewski was close by to tell us everything we wanted to know about the car and the automaker’s plans for the country.

Cool XC40 P8 Recharge facts

The XC40 P8 Recharge spent a long time in the development rooms of Volvo.

When the original chassis was drawn up, Maruszewski said Volvo designed it to support the electric powertrain that would come to market several years after the internal combustion engine (ICE) versions.

As a result, the lower sides of the chassis are the strongest components of the frame to assure the battery remains protected in an accident.

While on the topic, we were informed that a replacement battery for an XC40 P8 Recharge would cost just over R300,000.

Maruszewski said it is highly unlikely for an EV to require a replacement battery, however, and that owners will generally not need a replacement for the lifetime of their vehicle as long as they follow correct charging procedures.

Standing next to its ICE siblings, the XC40 P8 Recharge was nearly indistinguishable. To tell it apart, you need to look for the solid grille, unique 20-inch wheels, subtle Recharge badging, and charging plug on the left rear wing as opposed to a petrol port on the right.

Inside, differentiating factors of the EV comprise exclusive graphics in the instrument cluster showing range and charge levels, as well as the newest equipment for the 2022 model year. The rest of the company’s vehicles must still be updated for the coming year.

The Google-powered operating system across the XC40 range also stood out for being incredibly smooth and responsive, and Maruszewski informed us that several features can be added to the OS through over-the-air software updates, should Google decide to introduce them.

He said that things such as driving range and charging times can be improved via over-the-air updates, too, but only if there are no hardware limitations. He did not mention whether Volvo would be offering these updates, though.

For any future generations of the electric SUV, Maruszewski said the company is aiming to significantly increase the 418km driving range without increasing battery capacity.

Maruszewski said that he spent time in the P8 prototypes and that one of his favourite parts of the vehicle is the one-pedal operating feature, where the engine brakes for you as you lift your foot off the accelerator.

Not only does this make driving almost effortless, it also decreases the wear and tear on the vehicle’s moving parts.

Additionally, thanks to the electric powertrain the total number of moving parts on the electric XC40 is far fewer than on the ICE models.

This leads to lower maintenance costs, said Maruszewski, as you only need to take in the SUV once every few years to check up on the brakes, tyres, shocks, and steering rack as a safety precaution – as opposed to an ICE vehicle that needs to go in for routine services almost on a yearly basis.

Volvo EVs in South Africa

Maruszewski said the reaction to Volvo EVs in South Africa was very positive, and that customer feedback on the new online store was equally good.

Most customers of the XC40 P8 recharge were existing clients but also tended to be younger than the average Volvo buyer, added the manager of the Volvo dealership where the P8 viewing took place.

Volvo now has big plans for South Africa in the medium term, said Maruszewski, which involves the introduction of two new EVs as well as an increased offering of hybrids.

Before the end of 2023, local Volvo fans can expect to see another electric XC40 in the form of the P6 Recharge, as well as a coupe version of the compact SUV called the C40 Recharge.

No pricing was mentioned, but due to the naming scheme the XC40 P6 Recharge is expected to be more affordable than the model that recently arrived in our showrooms.

Furthermore, Maruszewski said Volvo will focus on increasing its hybrid powertrain options in South Africa.

There are no plans currently in the loop for expanding Volvo’s local charging network, however. Apart from charging stations at dealerships, customers will have to use other means of charging their vehicle in public, usually on the GridCars network.

Since Maruszewski arrived in 2015, Volvo’s local market share rose from around 2% to over 10%, he said, and the company is aiming to increase its market share going forward by putting its focus on electrified powertrains.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Volvo South Africa and Greg Maruszewski for inviting us to this sneak peek of the first electric Volvo in the country.

First Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge in South Africa

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