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Volvo electric cars in Australia: Everything you need to know

A Swede approach to EVs from Volvo.

Sweden has a fine history of world-beating brands - IKEA, Spotify, ABBA - but none has been around for as long as Volvo, the epitome of “safe and sensible”.

It may be a little less Swedish these days - Chinese multinational automotive company Geely Holding Group took ownership of Volvo in 2010 - but the brand will forever by synonymous with the land of meatballs, herring and blonde people.

Volvo ventured into the world of Electric Vehicles (EVs) with the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric concept car (DRIVe, see what they did there?), which debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. 

The first full-electric Volvo road car, the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric premium compact hatchback, came with an 82kW electric motor powered by a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack, delivering a top speed of 130km/h and an all-electric range of up to 150km.

In a move by Volvo that firmly underlined its intention to market the car as a fuel-free vehicle with a low environmental impact, the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric was involved in 2011’s Tonne Life project, which saw a family given the job of having to live as environmentally friendly as possible for a period of six months (they needn’t have been worried when those months got cold, either: the C30 was tested in winter conditions in temperatures as low as -20 °C). 

The Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric was only ever intended to be produced in small numbers, and thus was earmarked solely to be leased to corporate customers and government agencies.

As is the way with low-production models, the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric car was discontinued in 2013, but not before achieving a small modicum of glory: it shared first place in the 130km Michelin Challenge Bibendum rally in Berlin in 2011, also scoring awards for handling, well-to-wheel carbon dioxide emissions and local emissions along the way.

It was a long time in between (electric) drinks for Volvo, with the first mass-market, commercial Volvo EV not appearing in Australia until 2021.

The Volvo XC40 Recharge is an all-wheel-drive mid-size SUV, coming in both all-electric and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) variants

The C30 DRIVe Electric and XC40 Recharge Electric models aren’t Volvo’s only forays into vehicles using alternate fuel sources: in the past it has developed flexible-fuel vehicles (cars that run on gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel), the gas-turbine hybrid Volvo ECC (Environmental Concept Car), and “Drive E”, a line of vehicles with forced-induction four-cylinder engines.

Volvo EVs available in Australia

The Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric comes under the NSW Government’s threshold for the EV stamp-duty waiver. The Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric comes under the NSW Government’s threshold for the EV stamp-duty waiver.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric

Price: $76,990, plus on-road costs

Although it comes with a reasonably high price tag, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric comes under the NSW Government’s threshold for the EV stamp-duty waiver (effective as of September 2021), meaning drivers can joyously keep an extra $3000 in their pockets that they’d otherwise be spending on stamp duty (the Victorian Government also offers a $3000 rebate for EVs under $68,750, but it’s also introduced an EV road user tax of 2.5c per kilometre). 

Safety features are a given with a Volvo, so let’s get down to brass tacks for this rival to the Tesla Model Y SUV: the XC40 Recharge Electric comes packing two electric motors delivering a total of 300kW of power and 660Nm of torque, all powered by a substantial 78kWh battery that can deliver a driving range of up to 418km.  

Charging times vary depending on a number of factors, but a DC fast charger should see an empty battery get charged to 80 per cent in around 40 minutes. 

There’s also a PHEV version available for $69,990 plus on-road costs, for those who aren’t ready to commit to an all-electric model just yet. 

Volvo also currently has two other PHEVs available in Australia: the Volvo XC90 Recharge, a seven-seater, AWD SUV with an all-electric range of 44km ($97,990 plus on road costs), and the Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered ($99,990 plus on road costs), although that model is being phased out to make way for a new 2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV arriving in late-2021/early-2022.

The future of Volvo electrified vehicles

Volvo has stated that it plans on solely manufacturing electric cars by 2030, saying that there is “no future” for vehicles powered by harmful emissions-causing internal-combustion engines.

Taking a leaf out of Tesla’s playbook, Volvo has also said its range of fully electric models will only be available online by 2030, which is good news if you have an internet connection, and not so great if you don’t. 

Volvo has also predicted half of its global sales will be fully electric by 2025, with the rest being hybrid models. 

With plans to drop a cool billion annually on electrification and autonomy, expect a slew of Volvo EVs to soon start coming down the pipeline. 

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