There’s an old Swedish saying that’s important to remember in challenging times: Bara döda fiskar följer strömmen.
Only dead fish swim with the current.
Volvo may have had that notion in mind when it began developing electric vehicles almost 20 years ago. Today, that mentality endures with the all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge, a sportier, sexier version of the XC40.
“They were developed in tandem from the beginning,” says Erik Asplund, head of commercial fleet and rental for Volvo Cars USA.
“The CMA [Compact Modular Architecture] skateboard platform was created with these two cars in mind. The C40 is the fastback version with a new taillight design and overall iconic Volvo lines that you can follow back to the old C70s and XC90.”
Asplund notes that Volvo is a worldwide household name regaled for safety, reliability, and a legacy of innovation.
“The all-electric C40 Recharge is the latest Volvo technological flagship vehicle of and for the future,” he says, both in technology and design, “but stay tuned for more.” Asplund says the signature lightning bolt taillight hints at its electric underpinnings and futuristic technology, and the fastback rear design is hard to miss as Volvo’s first electric-only crossover accelerates by in the fast lane.
The C40 Recharge Fleet Factor
Asplund says Volvo’s fleet focus is mostly on the pharmaceutical segment and as a smaller, crossover-type vehicle, the C40 functions very well for a sales or municipal fleet.
“Pharmaceutical companies are at the forefront of cutting-edge fleets, and we hope to partner with more,” Asplund says, noting that Volvo partners with many EV100 members, an outspoken global coalition of companies—including Wheels | Donlen and LeasePlan—committed to changing their fleets to electric by 2030.
Asplund says the safety heritage of Volvo combined with the looks, efficiency, and functionality of the C40 Recharge will be a potent combination for fleet managers who desire a rechargeable passenger or executive vehicle.
“Volvos are nimble and we don’t put in a single component without vetting how it contributes to overall safety. Even the seats are designed with orthopedic surgeons for optimal ergonomics. High driver satisfaction is a big priority for us; if you’re driving more than 10,000 miles a year—any distance, really—we want you to be safe. When accidents inevitably occur, being in the safest car on the road makes a difference.”
For total cost of ownership, Asplund says Volvo takes a bespoke approach and there’s no flat number or incentive he can quote; it depends upon the fleet, the needs, the client. “We do a value-based proposition,” he says, “and we customize incentives based on customer order size. We want partners—partners in business and ethos. The EV transition won’t happen by itself, and collaboration is key.”
To that end, he’s excited about what the C40 Recharge will bring to the American market.
“It will do really well,” he says. “It has a great price point and is an attractive car. I think the demand will outweight the supply. While we all await a more robust charging infrastructure, battery warranties are required in the U.S. to protect consumers and help ensure quality and range, easing their minds when converting their vehicles to EVs.”
A Deliberately Different Crossover
Volvo has made a bold claim as the major manufacturers of the world attempt to harness the same power Benjamin Franklin did over 200 years ago with a key and a kite.
“Volvo is the first automaker that declared it will be fully electric by 2030,” he says. Nonetheless, no one knows how the driving John Q. Public will respond to the deluge of electric vehicles poised to flood the market, and that Volvo is trying to change the electric game, “because it’s the right thing to do. We’re going to help save the planet, be sustainable, and offer a better solution for fleets and families everywhere.”
“The C40 Recharge was made to be different,” he says, “and not just different—better. And once you’ve driven it, it’s hard to go back.”
Like Wordle, Nutella, and GPS, it’s hard to imagine life without the contemporary conveniences found in our pockets, cupboards, or dashboards. For Asplund, the C40 Recharge offers a fresh take on what he thought he knew—that the driving experience not only should offer more but that it needs to. Atop a fresh current from its 75-kWh battery, Volvo has helped achieve that.
“The infotainment system is really something,” he says. “The ability to customize apps in the car—not just maps, but whatever you can and want to download—is phenomenal. Once you have that, it’s hard to go back; it’s one of those things you’d never think of until you have them and now you can’t live without it.”
Based on the Google Android platform, the C40’s dashboard system is simple and sophisticated.
“The practicality of day-to-day driving [the Recharge] is astounding. I can say, ‘Take me to work,’ and the Google Android-based infotainment system will help guide me there. The search history of my phone integrates with the car app, frontloading all common destinations and routes. You also don’t have to sync your phone for apps such as Spotify; you can just download it directly to the car.”
“When you have modern amenities, it changes your perspective on your daily drive and trickles down into how you take care of the vehicle, regard it, and engage with it and others in the market.”
Built for Safety, Forged in Family
Volvo was founded almost 100 years ago, and its forefathers—Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson—worked and lived by a simple creed: “Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo therefore is—and must remain—safety.”
In 1927, easy electricity was a novelty, not a privilege. Still, Gabrielsson and Larson would be proud to know their legacy of safety endures—through two world wars, Sweden’s left-side/right-side national driving switch during H-Day in 1967, and the post-millennium technological swell—into a brand as safe as it is sexy, as progressive and forward-looking as the technology hidden within.
And Volvo knows it. “Electrification is here to stay,” Asplund says. “Volvo sold out of our 2022 EVs very quickly and we want to take care of everyone—not just those who received their vehicles, but those whom chose us even if we couldn’t fulfill the order. We want you to get around and we want you to feel good while you do it, engage with your vehicle, the road, and the people around you, and even with the planet itself.
“It’s the ultimate safety test,” he says, referring to the ongoing pressure to electrify in lieu of more stringent environmental regulations to help secure a more stable future.
“Three of our factories are fully carbon neutral; that’s pretty impressive for an automotive company. The XC40 and C40 Recharge—especially the C40—set not only the design standard, but the perspective standard as well.”
Perspective. It’s funny what can change your perspective. Volvo continues to transform itself, its vehicles, and the lives of the people within them while moving friends, family, and cargo across all corners of the globe.
Maybe it’s time to update that old Swedish proverb—
Framtiden tillhör strömmen.
The future belongs to the current.