Volvo has always been associated with all the safe, practical and sensible stuff in life, but surprisingly the Swedish brand has never built a minivan. Well, soccer Moms and Dads, here you go..
Defined as a “premium MPV” the Volvo EM90 was conceived with some help from a friend, and thus the new van is closely based on parent company Geely’s Zeekr 09.
The Volvo shares its basic shell with its Chinese sibling, but the front and rear designs are unique, with the face resembling the EX90 SUV and sporting an illuminated grille and some theatrical lighting sequences (see video below).
The EM90 is fully electric - in line with the brand’s 2030 EV strategy - and powers the rear wheels through a single electric motor that produces 200kW. It’s fast for a van too, with Volvo claiming a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.3 seconds.
It should be supremely comfortable on the road too, thanks to dual-chamber air suspension, noise cancelling technology and what Volvo calls “silent tyres”.
Beneath the Volvo is a massive 116 kWh battery pack that allows a claimed range of up to 738km on the CLTC testing cycle, with fast charging capability allowing for a 10% to 80% charge in under 30 minutes. The battery is also bi-directional, meaning it could theoretically power your appliances during outages or load shedding.
It’s basically a lounge on wheels
But it’s the cabin that should excite the most. Described as a “living room on the move” the six-seat interior is luxurious to say the least, with those in the middle row enjoying lounge-like reclining chairs with footrests and a 15.6-inch (39cm) screen that folds out of the roof, similar in concept but smaller than the one in the BMW 7 Series.
“The roof-mounted screen is part of a multi-functional set of screens and smart surfaces that enable a variety of in-cabin scenarios,” Volvo said.
“With the flick of a switch or a command to the voice assistant, you can easily turn the interior of the EM90 into a theatre, a meeting room, or a bedroom for the rear seats. Screens, seats, windows, air conditioner and lighting will all be adjusted accordingly,” Volvo says.
The cockpit area houses a 15.4-inch central screen with computing power by Snapdragon, and it offers 5G connectivity. Given all you’ve read so far you’d expect a decent sound system and this comes in the form of a 21-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium system.
Of course there are a gazillion safety gadgets too, with driver assist features powered by high-definition cameras, surround view cameras, millimetre wave radar and ultrasonic radars.
The Chinese built Volvo will go on sale in that market first, with other markets to be announced in due course. Though not officially confirmed for South Africa, local MD Greg Maruszewski has hinted that it’s under strong consideration:
“Local demand for electric vehicles continues to grow at an encouraging pace and we’re well aware that many high-profile South Africans appreciate the space and comfort offered by luxury MPVs,” Maruszewski said.
“While we have no official announcements to make right now regarding a possible local introduction, we do believe the high-end, fully electric EM90 will be very well received in South Africa by individuals seeking business-class levels of comfort and refinement.”