The Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid SUV: The Complete Guide For India

Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid
Price: Rs 96.65 Lakhs
Type of electric vehicle: Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Body type: SUV
Battery size: 18.8 kWh
Electric range (WLTP): 42.9 miles
Tailpipe emissions: 29g (CO2/km)


Electric Cars: The Basics


For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we recommend a read of the following articles:

For those keen on an overview of the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) and the different types of electric vehicles (EVs), simply scroll down to the end of the article!


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The Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid SUV


Sweden has created its fair share of global brands, but none with a reputation as good as Volvo Cars, when it comes to passenger safety. Volvo cars is an automotive manufacturer based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Volvo Group has a long history of success and was established in 1927. The Volvo electric vehicle (EV) current portfolio includes:

The Volvo XC90 internal combustion engine (ICE) SUV has been available since 2002 and is currently in the second generation. The first generation was unveiled at the 2002 North American International’s Auto Show. The XC90 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) has been available since 2015. The e-SUV was given a facelift in early 2021.

The XC90 Recharge PHEV is one of the very few environment-friendly seven-seater family SUVs available in the premium segment. Though the e-SUV does not come cheap, the XC90 plug-in offers a compelling proposition for private and company-car drivers, seeking lower motoring costs and practicality, but, without compromising on quality.

The Volvo electric vehicle (EV) has a 18.8 kWh onboard EV battery, with a WLTP certified zero-emission electric range up to 42.9 miles. Even adjusting for real-world driving conditions, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) should comfortably deliver an emission-free pure electric range over 35 miles.

For those new to electric driving, it is worth noting that many factors influence the real-world electric car range. Some of these include: driving style, temperature, elevation, wind, rain, road surface, wheel size, onboard services used, etc.

Taking advantage of the EV range will also require inculcating a habit of charging the EV on a regular basis, which is as easy as charging a smartphone. We at e-zoomed discourage the use of a domestic 3-PIN plug for charging an electric car. A ‘topping up’ approach to charging will help improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle and also improve the long-term maintenance of the onboard EV battery. Volvo offers a 8 years or 100,000 miles warranty.

Despite the premium price tag, it is disappointing to note that the XC90 PHEV does not offer DC charging. The EV has a 3.6 kW onboard charger. The Volvo electric vehicle can be charged 0% to 100% via a dedicated EV charging station in 5 hours. We at e-zoomed recommend charging the EV overnight, when the electricity tariff rates are cheaper.

The XC90 PHEV is an efficient vehicle. Volvo claims a fuel economy up to 217.3 mpg. Of course, similar to the real-world electric range, the real-world fuel economy will be impacted by a number of factors. Bottom-line, achieving anywhere close to the manufacturer claimed economy, the use of the pure electric mode on a regular basis, will be imperative.

Having said that, the XC90 plug-in hybrid will deliver a better fuel economy, compared to the conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) variant, which delivers 32.5 mpg. Of course, if you are driving primarily on motorways and using mostly the combustion engine, the PHEV will deliver a fuel economy closer to the conventional petrol variant.

In terms of practicality, cabin space, interior quality, standard equipment, safety features and technology, the Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid proposition is compelling. The 7-seat configuration still offers ample space, headroom and legroom for passengers. Despite the placement of the onboard EV battery, the boot space available is decent (640 L). Also on offer are: Google built in, advanced air purifier, head-up display, intelligent safety assistance, blind spot information system, 360° parking view and more.  It also offers partially recycled carpets and leather free upholstery.

The all-wheel drive Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid is available in the T8 powertrain. The EV pairs a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine with an electric motor. The PHEV can achieve 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds. The T8 delivers 455 hp (400 Nm torque). The top speed is 112 mph.

The EV has claimed tailpipe emissions up to 29g CO2/km. Again, substantially lower than the emissions of the conventional petrol variant. Bottom-line, electric driving is good for the environment and the wallet! The Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid electric SUV is available in India.


PROS CONS
A practical 7-seat premium plug-in SUVAn expensive PHEV. Cheaper options available
Good fuel economy, if driven regularly on e-modeOnboard charger limited to 3.6 kW
Low tailpipe emissionsDC charging not available

The Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid (credit: Volvo)


Driving an electric vehicle (EV) is cheaper than driving a petrol or diesel vehicle. As an example, in India, filling a full tank of fuel for the internal combustion engine (ICE) Tata Nexon SUV will cost up to Rs 5,000 (assuming an average cost per litre of Rs 100. The Tata Nexon has a fuel tank capacity of 44 L).

In comparison, the Tata Nexon Pure Electric SUV will cost less than Rs 300 for a full EV battery charge (EV Battery size: 30.2 kWh). In India, the average cost for residential electricity is between Rs 5 to Rs 10 per kWh(unit). Therefore the cost to drive per km (or mile) in a pure electric vehicle is substantially lower than a petrol or diesel vehicle.

At an average one can expect a cost per km of Rs 1 for a zero-emission EV, while for an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle, the cost per km could be up to Rs 7 per km. The annual cost savings achieved by switching to electric driving is significant!


At A Glance
EV Type:Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Vehicle Type:SUV
Engine:Electric/ Petrol
Available In India:Yes

Trims (1 Option)
Inscription (from Rs 96.65 Lakhs)

EV Battery & Emissions
EV Battery Type:Lithium-ion
EV Battery Capacity:Available in one battery size: 18.8 kWh
Charging:DC charging not available. Onboard charger: 3.6 kW AC (0% – 100% in 5 hours)
Charge Port:Type 2
EV Cable Type:Type 2
Tailpipe Emissions:29g (CO2/km)
Battery Warranty:8 years or 100,000 miles

Charging Times (Overview)
Slow charging AC (3 kW – 3.6 kW):6 – 12 hours (dependent on size of EV battery & SOC)
Fast charging AC (7 kW – 22 kW):3 – 8 hours (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Rapid charging AC (43 kW):0-80%: 20 mins to 60 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Rapid charging DC (50 kW+):0-80%: 20 mins to 60 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Ultra rapid charging DC (150 kW+):0-80% : 20 mins to 40 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Tesla Supercharger (120 kW – 250 kW):0-80%: up to 25 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)

Dimensions
Height (mm):1776
Width (mm):2140
Length (mm):4953
Wheelbase (mm):2984
Turning Circle (m):11.8
Boot capacity (L):640

Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid
EV Battery Capacity:18.8 kWh
Pure Electric Range (WLTP):42.9 miles (combined)
Electric Energy Consumption:21.5/62 miles
Fuel Consumption (mpg):217.3 (combined)
Charging:DC charging not available. Onboard charger: 3.6 kW AC (0% – 100% in 5 hours)
Top Speed:112 mph
0-62 mph:5.5 seconds
Drive:All-wheel drive (AWD)
Electric Motor (kW):N/A
Horsepower (hp):455
Torque (Nm):400
Transmission:Automatic
Seats:Up to 7
Doors:5
Gross Vehicle Weight (kg):2,980
Colours:10
NCAP Safety Rating:N/A

Benefits Of Electric Driving


The benefits of electric driving are many, with significant advantageous over petrol and diesel internal combustion (ICE) engine cars, for all stakeholders. These benefits include:

  • Lower to zero-tailpipe emissions
  • Lower running costs
  • Lower taxes
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Lower noise pollution
  • Convenience of charging at home
  • Smoother drive
  • Instant torque for acceleration
  • Lower environmental impact

Below we have highlighted three of our favourite benefits of owning and driving an electric car.


Improved Air Quality


Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) or all-electric vehicles do not have tailpipe pollution. In fact, such electric cars do not even have a tailpipe! Zero-emission electric driving has a real and immediate impact on local air quality i.e. improving air quality. While, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have reduced tailpipe pollution compared to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. The sooner we migrate to electric driving in India, the sooner we can improve air quality for all our cities, towns and villages. Lower air pollution will also result in a reduced number of health issues arising from inhaling toxic pollutants.


Lower Maintenance & Running Costs


Electric vehicles (EVs) are cheaper to maintain and drive. Pure electric cars have far fewer moving parts compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The fewer the moving parts, the lower the probability of repair and maintenance. Moreover charging an electric car can cost as little Rs 50 per 100 kilometres! A full charge can cost between Rs 100 and Rs 200. Significantly cheaper than filling a tank of petrol or diesel!


Lower Noise Pollution


Yes, we in India are far more resilient to noise pollution than those living in the western world. We have certainly got used to horns blaring and engines roaring, day and night. But that does not mean we enjoy or welcome noise pollution. In fact, quite the opposite!

Though much focus has been on the advantageous of ‘air quality’ with an electric car, just as important, is the benefit of lower noise pollution. In fact, pure electric cars are silent, with an inbuilt ‘sound booster’ to increase road safety for pedestrians. As our cities in India and across the world become densely populated with cars, the significant negative impact on ‘quality of life’ as a result of increased noise pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles, is just as dangerous, as increased air pollution. Battery-electric cars are a perfect solution in reducing noise pollution and increasing the living standards for us all. Of course, one can only hope that the self inflicted ‘horn blaring’ pollution will also reduce!


Types Of Electric Vehicles (EVs)


Electric vehicle” is an umbrella term, and a broad one at that. There are a number of different types of electric vehicles (EVs), each with its distinct characteristics and advantages. These include:

  • BEVs: Battery-electric vehicles (pure electric)
  • PHEVs: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (electric and internal combustion engine (ICE) combined)
  • MHEVs: Mild hybrid electric vehicles (internal combustion engine (gasoline or diesel) along with regenerative braking)
  • FCEVs: Fuel cell electric vehicle (electric with hydrogen as fuel)

The above “types” are powered either entirely or partially by electric energy and have different environmental impacts.


Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEVs)


Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), also known as pure electric vehicles, are powered entirely by electricity (i.e. the vehicle does not have a conventional internal combustion engine). BEVs have zero-tailpipe emissions and help improve local air quality.

BEVs are also very economical to drive. A BEV can cost as little as Rs 50 per 100 kilometres to drive. Examples of best-selling EVs include, the all-electric Tesla Model 3 and the all-electric Renault Zoe. A BEV is charged by plugging in the electric vehicle to a dedicated electric car charging station (home or public charging stations). BEVs are well suited for those living in towns, cities and urban centres. Of course, battery-electric vehicles are also suitable for those living in rural settings.


Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)


Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) differ from battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), in that, PHEVs use both a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric engine for propulsion. Plug-in hybrid vehicles combine the advantages of electric driving and internal combustion engine driving.

On shorter distances, the PHEV uses the electric mode to drive emission-free, using the on-board EV battery and regenerative braking. For longer distances, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles switches to using the internal combustion engine. With a PHEV, the vehicle can cost as little Rs 50 per 100 kilometres to drive on e-mode, without any tailpipe pollution, and also be driven long-distances, without the fear of range anxiety! Most PHEVs have an EV battery of up to 15 kWh and can achieve a zero-emission electric range of up to 50 kilometres. No wonder PHEVs are fast becoming popular globally, with much potential or India. Like a BEV, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is charged by using an external power source (EV charging point) for charging.

PHEVs are suitable for those that drive long-distances on a regular basis but want to lower the negative environmental impact from tailpipe pollution. PHEVs are also suitable for those individuals and families that are seeking to save money by taking advantage of electric driving. The Volvo XC40 PHEV and the Volkswagen Golf 8 are good examples of PHEVs.


Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEVs)


Mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEVs) are a limited form of electric driving. These vehicles also use hybrid technologies (electric driving and internal combustion engine), but the EV battery is much smaller than a BEV or PHEV. Moreover, in a mild hybrid, the EV battery cannot be charged via an external source (i.e. EV charging station). In a MHEV, the battery is charged by capturing the energy released during braking, a process known as regenerative braking. MHEVs have lower tailpipe emissions, and are more economical to own, run and maintain than petrol and diesel cars. MHEVs are a better option than a petrol or diesel car, but not as good an option as a BEV or PHEV. Mild hybrids are well suited for those living in regions with limited charging infrastructure. Again, MHEVs have great potential in India, given the limited public EV charging infrastructure.

The Toyota Prius is a good example of a mild hybrid electric vehicle.


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) also called hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, have a fuel cell stack that uses hydrogen to generate the electricity needed to power the electric vehicle. The fuel cell generates electricity and pure water vapour that can escape via the tailpipe. It is capable of generating electricity as long as there is a steady supply of hydrogen. Fuel cell electric vehicles can be refuelled with hydrogen at purpose built filling stations. Filling an FEC takes no more than five minutes.

FCEVs have a range of about 500 kilometers or more between refueling. Today, the only and major limitation is the very limited hydrogen refuelling station network globally. The Toyota Mirai FCEV is a good example of this type of EV.


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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