PRETORIA - Volvo wants the world to plug in to electric motoring and the Swedish car company is showing that it’s even prepared to sweeten the deal for those that buy vehicles with charge sockets. 

As part of a global initiative, Volvo will be partially refunding the electricity bills of those who buy its plug-in hybrid vehicles, for one year after purchase, and the local division has just announced that this also applies to South Africa - or at least in those instances when there is electricity.

Eskom jibes aside, the only other downside is that for now the only Volvo plug-in hybrid vehicle available in South Africa is the XC90 T8 Twin Engine, which is priced from R1 276 200. However, the initiative would surely also apply to future plug-in hybrid products that are launched. Volvo recently announced an XC40 Twin Engine model overseas, but it has not yet been confirmed for South African introduction.

The offer applies only to the electricity that is used to charge the car, and this will be monitored by Volvo’s On Call app. After a year of plugging in, customers will receive a refund equivalent to the car’s power consumption. The initiative applies to all plug-in hybrids bought after 16 October, and official measurement will start in May 2020, but in order to qualify, clients will be required to keep the car for the full year.

Given that charging an electric car is significantly cheaper than filling it with fuel, and that the T8 is only partially electric for that matter, it’s safe to say that T8 customers are not going to suddenly receive a big wad of cash back every month, at least not enough to make much of a difference to someone who was able to spend R1.2m on a car.

But in this case it’s the precedent being set that counts. If other manufacturers follow suit and this one day becomes an expected part of the deal, much like service plans are these days, then buyers will one day have more of an incentive to switch to electric cars, at least once more of them become available at the affordable end of the market - something that won’t happen in a big way until batteries become cheaper.

The XC90 T8, for the record, has a hybrid drivetrain that pairs an electric motor with a 2-litre petrol engine that is turbocharged and supercharged. Volvo quotes system outputs of 300kW and 640Nm, and when the battery is fully charged, the vehicle can travel up to 41km on electric power alone, Volvo claims. 

Volvo is planning on launching new electric vehicles every year between now and 2025, and the company also plans to reduce its lifecycle carbon footprint per car by 40 percent by that year.

2019 Volvo XC90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine.

IOL Motoring