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Volvo EX90: new electric seven-seater is half car, half computer

All hail the new Volvo EX90, the electric seven-seat SUV that Volvo insists isn’t just a car, but ‘a highly advanced computer on wheels’

Published: 09 Nov 2022
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Look carefully and what do you see? Seriously, lean in close and take a good look. Do you see… a car? If so, Volvo thinks you’re wrong. Well, not wrong. But only half right. Because this is the all-new, all-electric EX90.

And while it’s very much a seven-seater SUV, Volvo reckons it’s also ‘a highly advanced computer on wheels’ that marks ‘the start of a new era’ for the Swedish firm. Which is big talk indeed. “The Volvo EX90 is a statement for where we are, and where we are going,” explains CEO Jim Rowan. “Born electric and software-defined, it demonstrates what future Volvo cars will stand for in terms of safety, technology, sustainability, design and creating a more personal experience for every customer.”

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So let’s dig into the detail. Volvo is promising one new electric car a year as it targets EV-only sales by 2030; the EX90 is the first, and it’s the flagship. That means better everything, and more of it for good measure.

Enter state-of-the-art cameras, radars and lidar, all hooked up to an NVIDIA DRIVE core computer to form an ‘invisible shield of safety’ around the car. Volvo claims the EX90 can build a real-time, 360-degree picture of the world around it, as well as pick out small obstacles in the road hundreds of metres away. Day or night. At motorway speeds.

It’ll also scout the danger within. Namely you. Sensors and cameras track your gaze to measure alertness behind the wheel. If you get drowsy, it’ll (literally) give you a nudge; if you fall asleep altogether, it’ll stop safely and call for help. Turning nightmares into dreams.

For now you’ll have to make do with an upgraded Pilot Assist and steering ‘support’ while changing lanes, but Volvo says the EX90 is hardware-ready for unsupervised (i.e. autonomous) driving. So a future over-the-air update might one day make that a reality.

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And what of the tech that isn’t designed to save your skin? The 14.5-inch touchscreen runs Google everything (you still get wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, don’t worry). A 5G connection is standard, good for streaming music. Your tunes’ll sound good too, with headrest-integrated Bowers and Wilkins speakers among the 25 dotted around the cabin.

Having no key is standard too. Or rather, your smartphone is your key. Which means you can send it to others virtually at will. Approach and the EX90 begins your ‘personal welcoming sequence’ while loading your settings and preferences. So no more fiddling with the seat after you’ve lent it to the other half.

Crumbs, we’ve not even mentioned specs yet. Now there’s a measure of Volvo’s focus on the tech. Anyway, from launch there will be two twin-motor versions - a standard EX90 and the Performance. Both get a huge 107kWh usable battery with the former estimating 364 miles of range and the latter 360. That hit is because the Performance gets 510bhp and 671lb ft, allowing all 2,818kg of EX90 to sprint from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. Yikes. The standard version does still send 402bhp and 568lb ft of torque to all four wheels though, so it'll only be a second slower. Meanwhile 250kW DC fast charging means a 10-80 per cent battery top-up takes just 30 minutes.

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In the UK, first deliveries should be at the start of 2024, but we'll only get the top-of-the-range, 22-inch wheeled Ultra trim to begin with. That means an entry price of £96,255 for the standard car and £100,555 for the Performance. Yep, it's a £100k Volvo. We're assured that a bargain basement £75,000 entry-level model will be along shortly after launch. 

The EX90 will be built in the US from next year and later also China: both facilities are aiming for climate neutrality. Sustainability gets more than a cursory nod in the vehicle itself, too: a quarter of the aluminium used to build it is recycled, as is about 15 per cent of the steel. Same goes for 48kg of the plastics and bio-based materials inside, the highest proportion of any Volvo yet.

Any other measures to save the planet? Sort of: bi-directional charging. All the hardware is there so you can charge the EX90 at night (when electricity is less expensive) and use it as a whopper of a power bank for your home during the day. Okay, so it’s not like owning your own hydro-electric power station, but still: with an energy crisis looming (and a climate one already in full swing) stuff like this will be vital in the future. No wonder Volvo thinks the EX90 isn’t just a car…

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