For 20 years now, the XC90 has done a superb job of combining traditional Volvo appeal with the demands of the SUV market. Now the Volvo flagship must move into the electric era, and the EX90 is that car. More than just a replacement for the current XC, the EX is described by Volvo as the beginning of a new era - ‘in which we set a decisive course for a fully electric future’.
Its EV stats are pretty competitive, then. The EX90 will launch with two motors and all-wheel drive, supplied by a 111kWh battery; maximum outputs are 517hp and 671lb ft, which sound more than ample for a seven-seat Volvo family bus. Perhaps more important will be the healthy 373 miles of range. A maximum charging speed hasn’t been announced (you suspect a very good one would have been), with 10 to 80 per cent possible in less than 30 minutes. Bi-directional charging is promised in time.
With design set to become ever more important in the EV era, Volvo hasn’t held back with the EX90 - it’s bold, yet easily identifiable as Volvo without the badges. There’s some influence from the C40 Recharge, a bit of Polestar 2 and what’s becoming the familiar headlight design throughout the range. Looks absolutely massive, too, as has become XC90 tradition to get seven proper seats in. Not going to want any wheels smaller than the sharpest looks, surely. Volvo says it’s nothing less than a ‘new instant classic in Scandinavian design’, which might be a bit much - it’s easy to see how an XC40 Recharge might grow up into an EX90, and how the XC90 silhouette has evolved into this. But it’s certainly handsome in a way that Volvo does rather well at the moment.
More than the design or the performance, however, it’s the technology that aims to really elevate the EX90 experience. This being a Volvo, safety is a big focus as well. The claims are almost spooky, in fact. ‘It’s designed to understand you and its surroundings to help keep you, your loved ones and others in traffic safe’, reads the press material. ‘Our sensors don’t get tired or distracted. They are designed to respond and react when you’re just a fraction too late. Our lidar can sense the road in front of you, whether it’s day or night, also at highway speeds.’ That’s before mentioning the sensors and cameras with Volvo’s own algorithms to measure eye gazing, which can go so far as bringing the car to a halt and make an emergency call if it senses you’ve dozed off on the M4. And, of course, the EX90 has all the hardware for unsupervised driving, should the time come. All stuff we’ve heard about before, but it does feel to be taking another step forward with this Volvo. You’ll be able to send the family away for a week on their own soon.
Technology will play a more entertaining role in the EX90 as well, advancing the interior experience for driver and their six passengers. Indeed, Volvo suggests this SUV won’t just be a be a new car, it will be a ‘highly advanced computer on wheels’, which sounds great in terms of convenience - if a little concerning to more traditional customers. Naturally, the EX90 will be updated over the air as new software is available. As for what powers it all, the software will be all Volvo, which will cover ‘most of the core functions’, including safety, infotainment and battery management. Given how well cars like the Polestar 2 integrated tech, that’s encouraging for the UX of the EX. Computing power is provided by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Cockpit Platforms and visualisation bits from Epic Games’ Unreal Engine; some might see it as bit OTT, but infotainment is more important than ever. We all know how laggy displays and crummy graphics can spoil a new car experience, not least with the very best touchscreen devices in our pockets for comparison. Volvo’s promise of ‘lightning fast computing power and high-quality graphics’ throughout the EX90 will count for a lot. The 15-inch screen looks better than ever here, with Google apps and 5G as standard. Volvo tradition hasn’t gone out the window with this new era, either, as there’s a Bowers & Wilkins stereo included with the EX90, including headrest-integrated speakers, which ought to work a treat with Dolby Atmos.
Finally, while the industry-wide claims of increased sustainability for three-tonne SUVs continue to ring a little hollow, the EX90 does boast the highest level of recycled bits ever in a Volvo. That means approximately 15 per cent recycled steel, 25 per cent recycled aluminium and 15 per cent recycled plastic in the construction, which is something.
All part of the plan, you see, with Volvo set to launch an electric car every year now after the EX90 until it only sells EVs from 2030. By 2040, it wants to be a climate neutral company, which will include the factory in the US where this car will initially be built and the Chinese one to follow. The EX90 has been revealed in downtown Stockholm, which probably says a lot about its intended use. “The Volvo EX90 is a statement for where we are, and where we are going,” said Volvo’s chief exec Jim Rowan. “It’s fully electric with a range of up to 600 kilometres on a single charge, designed to further raise our safety standards, the first Volvo car to be truly defined by its software and part of a wider ecosystem, connecting to your home and your other devices. The Volvo EX90 is the start of something new for Volvo Cars in many ways.” A big car in every sense, then - expect the EX90 on the road some point in 2023.
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