Update: ‘Design’ section updated.
EV demand in China has never been higher, and in 2023, Fitch Ratings (via SCMP) estimates over 35% of passenger vehicle sales will come from EV models. Plus, with the nation’s new three-child policy, many automakers have begun lining up new electric MPVs. Volvo Cars is no exception, having just announced a model called ‘Volvo EM90’ for the Chinese market. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming electric minivan.
Citing one of its sources familiar with confidential EV developments at Volvo Cars, Reuters had published a report earlier this year saying the company’s first electric MPV will have a more “emotional” design than other Volvo EVs. This design will build on the Zeekr 009, as per the report.
The exterior of the Volvo EM90 could feature restrained but sophisticated styling cues, possibly reflecting some of the Swedish brand’s characteristic styling traits seen on the EX90 SUV. However, the electric minivan’s overall look may not be very different from that of the Zeekr 009.
Volvo Cars has set the bar high when it comes to safety, sustainability and design, and follows its own EV product programs. However, it could be that the components/toolkit of the Zeekr 009 offers the Swedes a strong base to build their vehicle, with a local factory already tooled-up and running. We expect the Volvo EM90 to feature the new-generation Thor’s Hammer LED lights (the EX90 features high-definition 1.3-megapixel lights), unique alloy wheels, distinctive rear combination lamps, and minimal shiny embellishments.
Recent spy pictures of the Volvo MPV from China indicate that it won’t have extensive design changes. Just as expected, test mules appear to have revisions in areas that are easy to redesign and don’t burden the production cost. The daytime running lights look similar to the ones we’ve shown in our rendering. However, the low- and high-beam lights seem to have been positioned separately, at a lower level, and they have a vertical orientation.
Interior & Features
The official teaser of the Volvo EM90 suggests that it will be spacious, boasting the comfort levels of a living room. Dual sunroof, including a panoramic unit for the rear passengers, will let in plenty of natural light and fresh air.
The design and layout should be fairly minimalistic and clutter-free, with a decent amount of storage cubbies and comfortable seats with plenty of adjustments.
Where the Zeekr 009 is only available in a 6-seater configuration, we think the Volvo EM90 will likely come in a variant with seating for 7 people as well. The teaser has confirmed the availability of individual seats with inner-side armrests and fold-out tray tables in the second row.
Since the Volvo MPV is built on the SEA (discussed in the next section), and not the SPA 2 of the EX90, integrating the same new features from Volvo’s future flagship SUV may not be feasible in the minivan. Our wishlist for the Volvo EM90 includes air suspension, a rear-seat entertainment system, a high-end surround-sound audio system, large & crisp displays at the front for the instrument cluster and infotainment system, wireless phone charging, multi-zone automatic climate control, and the equivalent of Pilot Assist (autonomous driving functions).
Volvo Cars is developing its electric MPV at its R&D center in Shanghai, as per the Reuters report. Given that China will be its main market worldwide, engineering it there instead of Sweden makes sense, as the company would be able to tailor it to the requirements of its customers better.
The Volvo EM90 will inherit the SEA platform that underpins the Zeekr 009. While there are no official details regarding the Volvo MPV’s dimensions, we expect it to be just as vast in size as the 009. For reference, the latter drives in at 5,209 mm (205.1 in.) in length, 2,024 mm (79.7 in.) in width, and 1,848 mm (72.8 in.)/1,856 mm (73.1 in.) in height, while the wheelbase stretches to 3,205 mm (126.2 in.).
The 009 is equipped with CATL’s high-density, cell-to-pack ‘Qilin’ batteries. The Volvo EM90 could be offered with the same technology, especially considering the two companies are part of a multi-billion-dollar long-term agreement that was signed back in May 2019.
Zeekr offers two battery pack sizes – 116 kWh (WE version) and 140 kWh (ME version). The 116 kWh unit delivers a range (CLTC) of 702 km or 436 miles, while the 140 kWh unit allows traveling up to 822 km or 511 miles on a full charge (CLTC).
The Volvo EM90 should also borrow the powertrain components from the Zeekr model, perhaps with a slightly different tuning. The latter is powered by twin electric motors that produce 400 kW (536 hp) and 686 Nm (506 lb.-ft.) of torque, enabling a 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) sprint in 4.5 seconds. Zeekr claims that the 140 kWh battery pack of the 009 can be fast-charged from 10-80% in 28 minutes.
Release Date & Price
The Volvo EM90 will break cover on November 12, 2023, and become available to pre-order in China the same day. Customer deliveries should begin in Q1 2024.
The EM90 is likely a China-only model, and it may never make it to the U.S. or European countries. Norway, which is an important EV market in Europe, won’t be receiving the EM90, Broom reported on September 8, 2023, citing local Marketing and Communications Manager Erik Trosby. On September 11, 2023, Carup reported that Volvo Cars doesn’t plan to release the electric MPV in Sweden either, based on information received from the company’s local spokesperson Magnus Holst.
Considering that the Zeekr 009 starts at CNY 499,000 (USD 68,522), the Volvo EM90’s prices could begin at around CNY 599,000 (USD 82,254). We reckon that it would be manufactured alongside the 009 in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China.
China is one of the few remaining markets where there’s strong demand for minivans. Combine that with the country’s burgeoning EV segment and the nation’s new three-child policy, an all-electric minivan starts to make a lot of sense even for automakers who haven’t waded into these waters previously. Already boasting a capable product in the EX90, the Volvo EM90 could help it grow strongly in this insatiable market.
Volvo EM90 FAQs
What is the Volvo EM90 release date?
The Volvo EM90 will debut in November 2023 and likely go on sale in China in Q1 2024.
What will be the Volvo EM90 price?
The Volvo EM90 could cost around CNY 599,000 (USD 82,254) in China.
Which models will be Volvo EM90 rivals?
The Electric Volvo Minivan will compete with the likes of Zeekr 009, Maxus MIFA 9, and Voyah Dreamer.
Featured Image Source: TopElectricSUV’s rendition of the Volvo electric minivan.