Volvo Brings Back RWD for Latest BEVs

Volvo is returning to its roots by launching new rear-wheel drive models to its line-up for the first time in 25 years.

The automaker switched from rear-wheel drivetrains that it had used on all of its vehicles from 1927 with the launch in 1985 of its first front-wheel drive car, the 480ES. Now the old-school technology is back in a bid to boost range for Volvo’s all-electric models the C40 Recharge and the XC40 Recharge.

While Volvo says a variety of changes in the latest generation of the models boosts range by up to 37 miles, it will now offer three drivetrain options in the shape of a rear-wheel drive, a rear-wheel extended range drive and a four-wheel drive variant. The models are also the first to use Volvo’s in-house second-generation permanent magnet electric motor driving the rear axles.

The single motor with standard range is driven by a 230bhp permanent magnet electric motor (e-motor), which provides a 3% increase in power output over the outgoing 223bhp single-motor front-wheel drive variant. In the XC40 Recharge single motor, the same 69kWh battery capacity is carried over but enhancements in cooling efficiency mean it now claims increased range and driving up to 285 miles according to the WLTP test cycle, compared with 264 miles before.

The range of the C40 Recharge single motor meanwhile improves up to 295 miles from 272 miles (WLTP). A 10%-80% charge takes approximately 34 minutes using a 130kW DC public charger. For even better range, there’s a bigger battery pack in the range extended single motor variant. It uses a 244bhp permanent magnet e-motor on the rear axle coupled to a 82kWh battery pack which boosts range up to 515 kilometres for the XC40 Recharge single motor extended range and up to 320 miles (WLTP) for the C40 Recharge. Here too, charging power has improved as the larger battery pack allows for charging at an updated top rate of 200kW DC (previously 150kW DC maximum), while a 10%-80% charge takes approximately 28 minutes.

The all-wheel drive variants now use a 241bhp permanent magnet e-motor on the rear axle and a new 152bhp 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 claims up to 310 miles on a single charge, a 38-mile boost over the previous iteration.

Javier Varela, Volvo chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, said: “These updates are another big step in our work towards becoming a fully electric car maker by 2030. Range and charging times are new key factors for more and more of our customers, and these improvements make our fully electric models even more attractive than they already were.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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