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Volvo XC40 Recharge 2023

Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge switch to rear-wheel drive and gain more range

The electric Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge models have switched from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. This is the first time in 25 years that Volvo has offered a rear-wheel drive car for sale.

Volvo doesn’t give an explanation for the change in its press release. However the company does claim that electric cars are more efficient if they are rear-wheel drive. In our view, most electric cars can’t handle the torque from an electric motor if they’re front-wheel drive, resulting in wheelspin and torque steer, but they can handle the torque better if they’re rear-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive also offers more rewarding handling. Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia have moved from predominantly front-wheel drive platforms to rear-wheel drive with the ID. models and the IONIQ 5 and EV6, and they’re all much better cars because of it. So it’s not a surprise to see Volvo do the same.

The Volvo C40 and XC40 Recharge ranges will include two rear-wheel drive models – although only one in the UK – and one all-wheel drive model.

The Volvo XC40 Recharge single motor retains the same 69kWh battery but enhancements in cooling efficiency means that the range improves from 264 miles to 286 miles (WLTP).

The Volvo C40 Recharge single motor also retains the same battery but the range improves from 272 miles to 296 miles (WLTP).

A 10-80 per cent charge takes approximately 34 minutes using a 130kW DC public charger.

The single motor with standard range has a 175kW permanent magnet electric motor which provides a three per cent increase in power output over the outgoing 170kW single-motor front-wheel-drive variant.

There’s also a model with a larger battery and a more powerful 185kW permanent magnet motor on the rear axle, although Volvo says that this car isn’t available in the UK. This model comes with an 82kWh battery pack, which boosts range up to 320 miles for the XC40 Recharge single motor extended range and up to 331 miles (WLTP) for the C40 Recharge single motor extended range.

The charging rate of this model has also improved because the larger battery pack allows for charging at a higher top rate of 200kW DC (previously 150kW DC maximum), while a 10-80 per cent charge takes approximately 28 minutes.

The all-wheel drive variants also benefit from these updates, giving even better range improvements. The previous set-up of two 150kW motors on the front and rear axles has been replaced by an in-house developed 183kW permanent magnet motor on the rear axle and a new 117kW asynchronous electric motor on the front axle.

This new configuration, paired with an 82kWh battery pack and overall efficiency improvements in battery cooling, means the XC40 Recharge Twin Motor AWD can now drive up to 311 miles on a single charge, a 39-mile boost over the previous iteration. The range of the C40 Recharge Twin Motor AWD has improved up to 315 miles from 280 miles (WLTP).

Exterior updates also help to improve efficiency, for example, a new 19-inch alloy wheel for both the XC40 and C40 Recharge helps to reduce drag through its aerodynamic design.