Volvo took another step towards its 2030 goal of full electrification on Wednesday with the official unveiling of its new flagship, the all-electric EX90. The three-row, seven-seat SUV, which grew out of the Concept Recharge design, will go on sale alongside its gas-powered sibling, the XC90, in model year 2024.
The EX90 will initially come equipped with a 111 kWh battery pack powering a pair of permanent magnet electric motors for 380 kW (517 hp) and 910 Nm of AWD torque. Per the company, the pack can refill from 10 to 80 percent in under 30 minutes at 250 kWh and travel a full 600km (373 miles).
The EX90 will be the first Volvo to offer bi-directional charging capabilities, which enable drivers to use their vehicles as home-scale batteries in the event of power outages — similar to what Hyundai's Ioniq 5 and the Ford F-150 Lightning offer. Volvo plans on selling home charging equipment as well including a wall box and energy management system. What's more the EX90 — like the rest of its EV brethren — will enjoy over-the-air software updates, though Volvo has begun expanding that service out to hybrid and ICE models as well.
The EX90's exterior is optimized for aerodynamics, boasting a drag coefficient of .29, just a touch behind the VW ID.4 and very respectable for a full-size SUV, electric or not. "We’ve taken inspiration from yacht design to outline the Volvo EX90’s beautiful and sleek proportions,” Volvo's head of design, T. Jon Mayer, said in a press release. “If you look at the front, it’s proud and confident – inspired by a sailboat’s ability to shear through the ocean’s slamming waves. But it’s also rounder overall, which enables the air to flow around the car more efficiently.”
Pedestrians will sail around the car more efficiently as well, thanks to the "shield of safety" that Volvo is working on. Using a mix of LiDAR, optical, ultrasonic and radar sensors, the EX90 will offer a 360 degree view around itself to proactively react to other vehicles and pedestrians even if the driver doesn't immediately notice the issue. The EX90's LiDAR sensors can reportedly spot pedestrians up to 250 meters away. The company believes that the system could reduce the rate of all accidents by 9 percent and cut accidents resulting in serious injury or death by as much as 20 percent.
"No matter how much experience you have or how much competence you have, at the end of the day, we are all still human," Volvo President Jim Rowan quips in the walkthrough above. "We want to help people become better drivers by being there when they're not at their very best." The company plans to further incorporate the LiDAR sensors into its future unsupervised autonomous driving system.
But like the oozing garbage bags one finds on the side of the highway, it's what's inside that counts. The EX90's cabin provides a well-lit Scandinavian minimalist design clad in sustainable and recycled materials, such as "Nordico," a fabric made from recycled PET bottles "as well as bio-attributed material from responsibly-managed forests in Sweden and Finland. All of the interior wood panels are FSC-certified sustainable and if you opt for the wool seat fabric, that yarn will come from vetted suppliers "according to strict sustainability standards on animal welfare, environmental and social issues." In all, more than 50 kilograms of recycled plastic are used in each EX90 interior.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into the illumination inside the EX90, trying to create a warm interior and a somewhat colder expression for the exterior,” Mayer noted. “It’s also connected to how people in Scandinavia might be perceived. There’s a calm and understated confidence that can read as cold at first – but once you get to know people, you find that they're really warm.”
The EX90's in-cabin LiDAR is a world-first, designed to detect the presence of occupants and alert the driver if anyone is left behind in an effort to prevent hot car deaths — Volvo notes that more than 900 kids have died in these circumstances in the US since 1998. Where allowed by regulation, the system will prevent the keyfob from locking the doors should a child or pet be detected inside and display a warning icon on the central 14.5-inch Google Auto-capable infotainment screen.
The system also keeps an eye on occupants while the vehicle is in motion. The interior system can determine your attentiveness based on your eye gaze. "The technology allows the EX90 to understand when you’re distracted, drowsy or otherwise inattentive, beyond what has been possible in a Volvo car to date," the company noted in a Wednesday press release. Should the system catch the driver lacking, it will issue increasingly urgent alerts until it becomes clear that they are incapacitated, at which time the EX90 will automatically pull itself over and call for help.
"No one chooses to be distracted or tired, but we know it can happen," Lotta Jakobsson, Volvo senior technical specialist in injury prevention. "We’re all human and distraction is a fact of life. With the help of cutting-edge technology, we’ll support you when you’re not at your best and help you avoid leaving family members or pets behind by accident."