The recharge that can get you all charged

My first encounter with a fossil-free relationship began the moment I took the keys to a Volvo C40 Recharge for a weekend test drive recently.

After a briefing on how to get the car to move forward – yes, it can really get down to downright basics – it was ‘pedal to the metal’ time.

Flooring the right foot on what would have been the ‘accelerator’ will indeed leave a jolting impression on any first-time electric vehicle (EV) driver.

Technically, once the driver floors the ‘accelerator’, the electric motor is engaged, and the response to speed up and move forward is immediate!

It’s all about motors – the box of tricks that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. It generates a force called torque, twists a drive shaft that turns the wheels, and voila – no need for plain old polluting internal combustion!

In the C40 Recharge, the front and rear driveshafts have the power from the motor to the front and rear driveshafts, which makes it an all-wheel drive wagon.

Reporting on the driving qualities of an EV takes secondary importance to the issue of battery staying power that has given rise to the unique malady called ‘range anxiety’ afflicting EV newbies.

I am no exception. I caught the ‘bug’ on a Friday, went through excruciating suffering the entire weekend, and lived long-term purgatory come Monday. I don’t think there will be an antidote at any pharmacy!

Once you get the car, you tend to be very mindful – nay, preoccupied, if not totally obsessed, with the battery life indicator.

A ‘full tank’ starts at 100 per cent, then with every kilometer (or minute that passes), the meter retreats and you cannot help but do mental gymnastics, calculating how much time before your tank ‘dries’ up!

Always leave enough – say a 10 per cent range – so you can come to a charging station upon reaching your destination. In most cases, EV owners charge their cars overnight in their car porch (for up to eight hours while they sleep), by hooking up the charging cable to a conveniently-located wall socket).

What does it feel like to drive the V40 Recharge? The difference, no doubt, is the lack of engine noise, no shifting of gears except to go forward or reverse, no polluting tailpipe, and no belching smoke from your rear.

The driver is mindful that instead of those throbbing pistons and exploding combustion chambers in a conventional engine block, you have a battery pack that occupies the space instead.

There is just so much to explore – and therefore to report – so that more motorists out there climb into the conservation bandwagon.

There is pedal driving, regenerative braking, and rather disconcertingly – creep mode! Don’t let that put you off – creep mode is simply a feature that allows for steady ‘crawling’, without stepping on the ‘gas pedal’ to inch forward.

Having surrendered the ‘key’ – thankfully, it looks conventional enough with three functions (Entry, Exit and Boot Lid) – to my new-found EV buddy. Jason at Volvo Car Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, I retreated into the familiar cocoon of my humble Bezza – dents on the roof, and all.

To be sure, I will have more to share once I get my hands on C40’s predecessor – the similarly all-electric XC40 to get really acquainted with this world of EVs.

Main image: Faris Budin