Down through the decades we have taken lots of ideas for everyday life in Ireland from the USA. So why not chargers for electric cars? Despite promises by various Irish government ministers, we have yet to see any huge banks of chargers installed anywhere in the country.
Yes, there are a few on the motorways in Lusk and Monasterevin, but nothing major, yet.
Recently, when announcing a deal with Tesla to install half a million charging stations across the US, President Joe Biden came up with a gem. He said these charging station could spring up small communities.
“Every gas station in America that has got built, what happens? All of a sudden you have a fast-food store nearby, and you build a community,” the President told a group of union workers in Maryland.
That’s all by way of introducing the electric version of the Volvo XC40 that I drove last week. The XC40 was named European Car of the Year in 2018 and following year it was crowned Continental Irish Car of the Year.
Volvo has a reputation for building fine solid family cars. In recent years the Swedish company, which is now owned by a Chinese group, has made a successful switch to SUV’s with the XC90 and XC60.
The XC40 is the baby of their SUV’s and my test model came in a very attractive shade of Fjord Blue, with a black roof. It’s one of the best looking EV’s around.
Volvo like to describe their hybrid and electric cars as a ‘ReCharge’ and of course that’s what it’s all about, re-charging, whether at home or at public charge point.
Normally the grille in petrol or diesel cars catch the eye, but in electric version there is no grille and very often that can mean that the front of an electric car can look very dull. Apart from the missing grille the XC40 is very classy and it’s probably chunky enough to tackle some off road work, but in truth that’s unlikely to happen.
If there is one word that defines Volvo, then it’s safety. All versions of the XC40 come with City Safety as standard. The car will break automatically if a pedestrian walks out in front of you in slow-moving traffic. The system will also stop you reversing out of a car park space if another car is driving behind you. Then you also have the ‘Bird’s Eye’ camera which is safety personified.
Plenty of power available and you can get from zero to 100km in just under five seconds. That’s fast, but naturally if you drive that fast you will use up a lot of electricity very quickly.
I liked the high driving position and there is plenty of room for five well-built adults. You can leave down middle section in seat in back and use it as a cup-holder.
There is a decent boot, but as usual with electric and hybrid versions the space in the boot where you would normally find a spare wheel, is occupied by techy equipment.
All that luxury and safety comes at a price, in this case €53,980. As with most electric cars road tax is only €120. The battery is 69kWh and the range on a good day is just over 400km. It’s a Volvo, so it has to be classy and safe.
Getting back to Mr Biden’s idea, we have plenty of small communities in Ireland, it’s electric chargers we need if we are to be fully electric by 2030.