Volvo Car this week joined the race to an electric vehicle market in South Africa with its first full-electric car and two plug-in hybrids, declaring that its local range of vehicles was now almost entirely electrified.
Greg Maruszewski, managing director at Volvo Car South Africa, said during a media launch in Johannesburg that local motorists had the opportunity to experience the benefits of three stages of vehicle electrification.
“Our mild-hybrid vehicles boast reduced tailpipe emissions, improved fuel economy and stronger on-road performance, making them ideal stepping stones to our plug-in hybrids – which add the major advantage of a pure-electric driving mode – and ultimately our all-electric offering. Our completely renewed line-up covers all of the electrification bases.”
The updated South African line-up comprises predominantly all-electric, plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid options, with the full fleet of freshly improved vehicles being launched at a media event held at the tallest building in Africa, including Volvo’s first fully electric car, the XC40 P8 Recharge; the XC60 T8 Recharge and XC90 T8 Recharge plug-in hybrids; and the B5 and B6 mild-hybrid variants that make up the remainder of the XC60 and XC90 line-ups.
Recharge models made up 34% of Volvo’s global sales volume in the fourth quarter of 2021, and plug-in hybrids accounted for 28%. Maruszewski said the hybrid powertrain currently represented the ideal solution for the majority of the company’s local customers. With the S90 and V90 Cross Country line-ups now also featuring exclusively mild-hybrid powertrains, the only purely petrol-powered options that remain in Volvo’s local range are the T-badged derivatives in the XC40 line-up.
During the media launch, product manager at Volvo car South Africa Gresham Pillay told GadgetWheels that plug-in hybrids would become the mainstream for now.
“Although there is a niche at the moment for electric and we do believe that electric is the future., there are certain challenges and shortcomings that we face in South Africa,” he said. “Number one being electricity infrastructure. We believe that the plug-in hybrid is really the alternative at the moment because, with the current range that you can get, the consumer can literally do the Monday to Friday commute in pure electric and still have the benefit of the internal combustion engine should they need to do long-distance trips. So it takes away that anxiety, but it also educates customers on electrification, that hopefully will then propel them at a later stage to then switch from a plug -n hybrid to fully electric vehicles.”
Pillay said it was difficult to provide a timeframe, but he expected the shift to happen in the next two years.
“Once we see the mass brands start to bring EVs into the country, that will probably propel government to look at rebates, which will hopefully expand the market. Once we see more and more growth in terms of new EV entrants into the market, that will certainly assist but the shift from internal combustion engines into some form of electrification. Until then, I certainly believe that the hybrid is the way to go.”
The new range also brings another innovation to car technology: Google account integration. Volvo’s latest Android-powered infotainment system ships complete with built-in Google apps and services, turning the car into a veritable smartphone on wheels (we will explore the system further in an upcoming review).