Volvo XC40 Recharge.

In case you haven’t been following all the latest motoring news, it has been confirmed that car owners in Ireland will not have to switch to fully electric cars by 2030 as we have been granted a reprieve by the EU until 2035.

Sales of electric cars to private buyers fell in the UK at the end of last year, but overall the figures rose due to fleet sales. In Ireland I have noticed some fleet sales and numbers are growing steadily with SIMI confirming that 4,109 electric cars were sold here in the month of January. That’s an increase of 12% from January 2023. The total sales figure for electric cars for all of 2023 was 22,789, compared to 16,678 in 2022.

Petrol engines are still the best sellers in Ireland at 31%, with diesel at 21% and electric currently at 13%. The remainder is made up of petrol -hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

Last week I drove the very neat Volvo XC40, which is really class. It’s definitely one of the more distinctive and recognisable cars in its segment.

The range with a full charge was approximately 550km and the 82kWh battery charged fairly quickly, once I found a charge point where there were no taxi drivers ahead of me in the queue.

Every week that I drive an electric car, I hear the same complaints from fellow EV motorists, “we need more charge points”. If you are thinking of buying an electric car you will probably need a home charger, but there are thousands of motorists living in apartment blocks with no access to charge points and many of them seem to be taxi drivers.

XC40 Recharge

I don’t know what Donal Trump’s views on electric cars are, but last year US President Joe Biden came up with an unusual thought about the installation of new charge points for electric cars.

Announcing a deal with Tesla to install half a million charging stations across the USA, Mr Biden told a group of workers in Maryland: “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.”

Well, here in Ireland we already have hundreds of small communities in towns and villages, but no charge points. I know there can be issues with planning permission in some locations.

Volvo has a reputation for building solid, comfortable family cars. In recent years the Swedish company, which is now owned by a Chinese group, has made a successful switch to SUV’s and more recently to electric.

The XC40 is the baby of their SUV’s and my test model came in a very attractive shade of Vapor Grey with a black roof. 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 a 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. Volvo now just use their logo where the grille would normally be.

Fully electric Volvo XC40 introduces brand new infotainment system.

Inside, the dash is dominated by the infotainment screen, which for radio fans like me is brilliant as you get a full list of available stations in your line of vision. The car starts automatically once you sit in and there is no start/stop button.

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 driving behind you or a person moving 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 quickly use up a lot of electricity.

I liked the high driving position and there is plenty of room for five well-built adults. You can leave down middle section of the back seat 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 charge cables. There is a deep well in a section of the boot, but I don’t think a spare wheel would fit; but it could be used to hide certain items.

Officially the boot space is 452 litres with the back set up and 1,328 with back seat folded down. There is also storage space in the front which is called the Frunk, and it’s probably the tidiest place to keep those charge cables. And it’s well shod, with Pirelli tyres.

It used to be said that Volvo cars were built like a tank as they were indestructible. Now they are a bit more stylish, but still very solid and comfortable.

Prices start at €54,710, but the top of the range Ultimate version that I drove, with a plethora of extras, will cost you €65,910. Volvo are offering 0% finance on the XC40 and C40 until the end of February. Also on the way from Volvo is their new EX30, their smallest ever SUV.