With the pandemic seemingly beginning to dwindle, people have been anxious to travel freely again, whether for vacation or simply to an idyllic destination for a work trip. In my case, I was able to unify the best of both worlds through an excursion to Palm Springs, California, to explore the depths of the all-electric 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge crossover while enjoying downtime in the desert oasis of The Parker Palm Springs.
Work-life and obligatory family responsibilities call for the mind, body, and spirit to recharge as often as possible to offset daily burdens. Therefore, the relaxing resorts, cultured experiences, plant-based eateries, and the mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs were perfect for my journey. But what’s even more interesting is that the profusion of electric vehicles (EVs) on the market has led us to consciously rethink our lifestyles in order to reduce carbon footprints from what we eat and drink to how we drive and live. Humans over consume in every category, so mindfulness, minimalist, and reductive habits are vital pillars to saving this planet from self-destruction. As a vegan myself, I know it's an anomalous approach from the norm; however, it is necessary for every facet of living.
Volvo Car USA invited auto media for a vacation-styled test drive of the C40 Recharge -- its first pure electric Volvo – for a climactic experience behind the wheel of the latest evolution of Scandinavian engineering, design, and sustainability. An ambitious transformation plan will lead to complete electrification of its vehicles by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2040. The Volvo EV, built in Ghent, Belgium, is also the first to feature a leather-free interior that ultimately reduces the vehicle’s weight, increases its levels of compassion, and decreases its carbon footprint since 14.5% of all human-generated greenhouse emissions stem from animal agriculture.
This goal was a personal ambition of Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson, who had to persuade company executives and Volvo dealers that this was the righteous path for evolutionary vehicle development. Volvo partnered with Asian-American fashion designer Phillip Lim to fabricate handbags from the Nordico cabin materials that Volvo developed to convince the dealers' wives that sustainability can be premium. In the end, the majority concurred. The Microtech, a suede-like fabric, and its quality textures are made from recycled PET bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests, and wine bottle corks. "We have a vision of where we need to go in the future, with the first step to ensure we harness sustainable, natural, and recycled materials," said Robin Page, Head of Design at Volvo Cars.
After flying into Palm Springs International Airport, you will pick up your EV and head to The Parker to relax poolside at the Gene Autry or Silicon Valley while recouping. The iconic property is one of the most eclectic and art-based hotels in America. Yes, it also has charging stations onsite to re-energize your ride. As part of the Fit Fathers movement, I'm all about exercise when traveling, so activities such as the Terre Battu tennis courts, hitting the fitness studio, yoga, bicycling, and hiking were all up my alley. The Palm also offers Croquet, a giant chess set, and golf. In addition, the Palm Springs Yacht Club provides facials, massages, manicures, an indoor pool, and much more for self-care.
Ready to ride quietly and efficiently in your bubble-shaped Fjord Blue Metallic C40 Recharge featuring a black glass roof, black dual rear spoilers, black lower body surround, 20" eco-styled rims, and unique closed grille? Its magnetic blue personality is stellar, and vigor is impressive when calling upon the 402-horsepower from the battery-electric powertrain featuring permanent AWD. This came in handy during mountainous uphill driving through Coachella Valley en route to Cahuilla Tewanet Vista Point to learn about the Cahuilla people who gathered Nakwet berries, Tevat nuts, Hunavet leaves, acorns, Mutal plants, and more for food and to make essentials like baskets. The rugged and arid landscape provided every resource they required, although an intimate understanding of how to source and craft each was paramount. There is also a nature path to take a meditative walk before journeying to your next destination.
The 226-mile drive range from the 78 kWh high voltage battery is plenty for touring around Palm Springs, but I would like to see around 300 miles before a power source is required, which seems to be the norm with premium EVs. You can charge 0% to 80% in roughly 40 minutes with DC fast charging. Volvo recently partnered with Star bucks to have ChargePoint infrastructure placed along a 1,350-mile route between Denver and Seattle. As many as 15 locations and 60 DC Fast Charging handles will be available to coffee lovers of the popular café.
For my next stop, I used the new 9” center touchscreen and Google ecosystem that integrates Google navigation, Google calendar, Google Play for music and talk shows, and
Google Assistant, which supports natural speech. Say "Hey Google" and tell the system your destination. I prefer Google maps on my phone and love this technology over CarPlay. The updated multimedia system also reduces the complexity and distraction of Volvo's prior system. The C40 Recharge escorted me by Angel Cove Monument and then to an exquisite Garage Living home located off the picturesque Winter Sun Drive. In this case, the custom garage transformation company outfitted the single-family residence with:
• Three Volvo-branded Level 2 home chargers
• Flexible work-from-home space with built-in desk and foldable meeting table
• Entertainment center with state-of-the-art smart TV and Bowers & Wilkins speakers
• Innovative storage solutions for active lifestyle equipment
For a healthy, plant-focused lunch, I stopped at Chef Tanya's Kitchen for some of the most delicious vegan food I have ever eaten. Wow, I was in heaven as the choices were abundant, from Tempeh burgers and power salads to chickpea TuNo salad sandwiches and Moroccan roasted cauliflower. The chef's ideologies match succinctly with Volvo's as she's inspired by love to make good food that is natural, healthy, and kind to the environment.
After fueling with fresh foods, continue your sightseeing to various famous architectural sites using the C40 Recharge's one-pedal drive feature. You engage just the gas pedal since lifting off of it slows down the Volvo as if you hit the brake pedal. Though, it can be remarkably abrupt. My afternoon was highlighted by views of The Kauffman House, the first Swiss Miss House, Dinah Shore House, Forever Marilyn, That Pink Door, and the Park Imperial South.
En route back to The Parker, I tuned to the Marley station on SIRIUS / XM as the melody flowed from the impressive Harman/ Kardon audio system. The interior is roomy, effervescent, and stylish, especially the handcrafted Crystal gear knob. I made it back in a flash to rest up in my cozy poolside room featuring a Bougainvillea-clad patio. So, what are you waiting for? Switching to an EV provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fuel-powered transportation. And with an array of cost-effective, high-quality home chargers available, going electric is simpler than ever.
The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is sold exclusively online with a $58,750 MSRP but includes the full federal tax credit of $7,500. "Conscious design can fundamentally transform our society, and it's integral that brands harness the opportunities on offer," said Martin Raymond, Co-Founder of The Future Laboratory. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, but now it's time to end my temporary routine from the norm and head back to the East Coast. So long, Palm Springs, until we meet again!