Stick­ing with the elec­tric car theme Sid­dharth rec­om­mends an easy way to tran­si­tion to full electrics after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Volvo's lat­est XC60


VOLVO IS ON A ROLL THESE DAYS. EACH OF ITS new mod­els seems to be a sure-fire hit thanks to cut­ting edge de­sign, ef­fi­cient en­gines and su­perb cabin trims. After the XC90 and S90/V90, the XC60 is now tak­ing the charge for­ward – and let's not for­get the much talked about XC40 that has also been un­veiled re­cently. The XC60 uses the same SPA plat­form (scal­able prod­uct ar­chi­tec­ture) that has been launched in many mar­kets and In­dia will get it soon too. It is also a nom­i­nee for the 2018 World Car Awards. While we have tested the diesel and petrol vari­ants on the global drive a few months ago, I re­cently had the chance to also drive the twin en­gine (plug-in hy­brid) vari­ant while on a trip to Swe­den. The car uses the same pow­er­train as the twin-en­gine XC90, but since the XC60 weighs al­most 200kg less, it per­forms more ef­fi­ciently on the com­pact SUV. The twin en­gine uses 314bhp, 2-litre, 4-cylin­der tur­bocharged and su­per­charged petrol en­gine that drives the front wheels.

And an 86bhp elec­tric mo­tor that pow­ers the rear axle, and uses a 10.4kWh bat­tery pack. The car has al­most 50km it can go on purely elec­tric drive. Given the added weight of the bat­tery pack, while the XC60 twin en­gine is no firestarter, its per­for­mance and si­lent take off will im­press you. Its fit and trim qual­ity is also right up there. And I gen­uinely be­lieve that when we get the XC60 the hy­brid should be of­fered as a vari­ant too. And not just in some crazy high-end trim – com­plete with a cham­pagne cooler and crys­tal flutes (like the Ex­cel­lence trim on of­fer with the XC90 plug-in that does sell in In­dia at an ex­or­bi­tant price) – but in­stead in a rea­son­ably well-loaded avatar that doesn’t have a break-the-bank price tag.

Why do I think that is im­por­tant you might ask? After all the ef­fi­cient 2-litre 4-cylin­der diesels are do­ing the job for Volvo, by also be­ing green be­sides be­ing the pre­ferred op­tion in In­dia. Well, many rea­sons, but chief among them – our move to­wards electrics. Yes we have a de­clared tar­get and it's a stiff one. Ev­ery car and bike and bus and truck on the road (oh and scooter and mini­van and SUV and minibus and MPV) must be elec­tric by 2030 ac­cord­ing to our trans­port min­is­ter. Now scoff all you like, and roll your eyes as many times too – but whether or not In­dia meets that tar­get, the ship has sailed. We will go elec­tric (as things to­day) sooner than later. Now much has been said about how we will get there and I agree with some of those the­o­ries, but not all. It will be tough to imag­ine all ve­hi­cles sell­ing with fos­sil fuel driven in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines un­til March 31, 2030, with the next day putting a stop to it. No, we need to get there by tran­si­tion­ing. One way to do that is to adopt the prac­tice of charg­ing ve­hi­cles. Smaller city run­abouts – two or four wheeled ones – that charge quickly and have a range that al­lows for city us­age is one step. And I fig­ure a slew of these are on the anvil. And then there's the the­ory of the plug-in hy­brids. They will help re­duce the bur­den on oil de­mand grad­u­ally and also al­low for a quicker ac­cep­tance of plug-ins with­out the range anx­i­ety.

And al­low­ing cars like the XC60 to come in with such op­tions (even if there is no di­rect in­cen­tive from the gov­ern­ment for a plugin hy­brid) will only spur con­sumer de­mand. And that will drive the need for oth­ers to bring in such mod­els, even Volvo to of­fer a hy­brid op­tion even on say an XC40, and even­tu­ally the mass brigade adopt­ing it too. So for starters, I hope we get a de­cent trim op­tion of the XC60 twin-en­gine. ⌧

Hy­brids, the plug-in kind are a good way to tran­si­tion to all


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