The Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin pure electric vehicle is a very comfortable, practical and easy to drive car. It has all the features that most people would expect of a high-end vehicle. As newbies living with an electric car, we found it easy to adapt to – the car's controls and dash are reassuringly familiar and it took us very little time to adapt to the particulars of it being an EV. Figuring out when, where and how to charge the car remains the biggest learning curve for a new EV owner, and there's no doubt that Australia needs a lot more public EV chargers to support the growing number of EVs on the road.
Price: $81,490 plus on-road costs
CHOICE has long had a company car to help staff run work-related errands or in-the-field product tests. In 2022 we decided it was time to retire our Holden Cruze and replace it with an electric vehicle (EV). We took delivery of the new EV this year: a Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin pure electric.
Here, we explain why we chose this vehicle and give some first impressions of what it's like to drive and own.
Electric vehicle (EV) ownership is growing rapidly in Australia and it's clear that electric cars will become the norm over the next several years. But they remain a relatively pricey option for now, and many Australians are unfamiliar with the technology and unsure how it will fit their needs. Clearly there's a role for CHOICE to help inform consumers here, so providing advice on EVs is one of our ongoing strategic goals.
But like most Australians, many CHOICE staff aren't EV owners yet and aren't personally familiar with them. So as a step towards helping more of our staff become familiar with EVs, and in turn being better able to write about them, it made sense to invest in an EV at this time.
Electric vehicles remain a relatively pricey option for now, and many Australians are unfamiliar with the technology and unsure how it will fit their needs
The 211kW solar PV system on the CHOICE office roof makes charging the EV dirt cheap and certainly environmentally cleaner than running an internal combustion engine (ICE) model, i.e. a petrol or diesel car.
Since finishing the staff trial of the Volvo, CHOICE has installed two 22kW Type 2 EV chargers in its staff car park to allow easy and fast charging of the Volvo and to provide a charging option for staff-owned EVs as well. More chargers will likely be added in the future as EV ownership becomes more common. This will assist staff members to make the transition to EV ownership, particularly for those who don't have the option to charge at or near their home.
Owning an EV is one step in our commitment to being a carbon neutral organisation.
We considered several models, such as the Tesla Model 3, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Kona, but settled on the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin, mainly because:
- it has a decent amount of practical boot space (handy if you have to lug lawnmowers or other gear out to a test)
- it has useful ground clearance (ditto)
- it's easy and familiar to operate – any experienced driver can just use the key fob, get in and drive it away with very little instruction. As this car may be driven by many different staff members, that's an important consideration.
We gave the Volvo to two staff members to use for a week each. Both are experienced drivers and neither currently owns an EV or has much hands-on experience with them. Here are their thoughts on how the car is to drive, their experiences with charging it, and whether it made them want to own an EV.
One of the main lessons learned is that the first few times using a charging station can be frustrating. Drivers switching for the first time from their petrol or diesel car often won't know the ins and outs of charging an EV, especially navigating the various types of public chargers and networks. We want to see clear instructions on every charger that include the price of charging, and a simple tap-and-go payment system with credit card or smartphone, regardless of who owns or operates the charger itself.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin is a very pleasant drive. It's quiet, handles well, and feels comfortable and practical for commuting and highway driving. It certainly feels like a good choice for CHOICE.
Our two staff members enjoyed their experience with the Volvo, but both were dependent on public chargers for the period they were using it. Being able to charge at home or at work is still a big advantage for an EV driver. Relying on public chargers presented a few challenges and highlighted that in many areas there just aren't enough charging stations yet.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.