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Volvo unveils new EX90 SUV and plans for a new EV every year until 2030. Image by Volvo.

Volvo unveils new EX90 SUV and plans for a new EV every year until 2030
Volvo’s electric follow-up to the XC90 may look pedestrian, but it probably won’t hit one.
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What's all this about?

This is the Volvo EX90 and, if you hadn’t guessed from the looks, it’s the fully-electric replacement for the XC90 seven-seat SUV. While it’s a technically impressive package, it’s also a big part of Volvo’s plans to transition to an all-electric brand by 2030. To that end, the company has also announced that it would, between now and the end of the decade, launch a new electric model every year. It’s also an important model for Volvo in its own right: in the first 10 months of 2021 alone, the XC90 accounted for around 6.5 per cent of Volvo’s global sales, third only to the firm’s bigger-selling XC60 and XC40 SUVs, a sales volume the firm hopes the EX90 (and any potential future hybrid variants) can carry on.

But it looks just like an XC90. What's new?

Practically everything, actually. For one, the EX90 is entirely electric with power coming courtesy of a meaty 111kWh battery pack and twin electric motors —one at the front and one at the rear — none of which is particularly surprising given that we’ve already heard the tech specs of the Polestar 3 with which the EX90 shares a platform. That battery is enough to give the EX90 a 373-mile range with the motors producing 517hp and 910Nm of torque. Like with the Polestar, other versions with more or less range and perhaps a single motor may follow.

It's a Volvo, so it must be safe, right?

Very. The company’s safest car ever, or so it says. There are eight cameras, five radars, 16 ultrasonic sensors and a lidar sensor, all technology which, Volvo claims, has been proven by its research to reduce the number of serious crashes by as much as 20 per cent. This all comes at a time when one of Volvo’s competitors, Tesla, is scrapping ultrasonic sensors and radar in favour of completely camera-based safety and driver assistance systems — odd considering lidar is generally considered more effective than cameras at night.

But isn't the driver the most likely cause of a crash?

Indeed, and that’s also something Volvo has sought to address. The EX90’s “driver understanding system” uses two cameras to detect signs that a driver may be distracted, drowsy or incapacitated. By monitoring the driver’s eye patterns and measuring how much of the time the driver is looking at the road ahead, it can detect when a driver’s eyes or mind are elsewhere. If the system senses that the driver is not paying sufficient attention, a warning signal will sound, increasing in volume and insistence depending on the situation. If the driver fails to act (say, for example, they’re taken ill), the system can switch on the car’s hazard lights and bring the vehicle to a halt by the side of the road.

What's it like inside?

Nicely appointed, though fairly minimalist, with the big 15.0-inch central touchscreen doing away with most of the buttons and knobs. That touchscreen runs a multimedia system co-developed between Volvo and Google and functions similarly to an in-built Android device. That’s not to say that iPhone users need to be alarmed — the system is still compatible with Apple CarPlay. In addition to that aspect of the infotainment system, there’s a 25-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system with speakers built into the head-rests of the seats to provide a more immersive listening experience.

When's it due to arrive?

Next year, though exactly when remains to be seen. Pricing hasn't been confirmed yet, either.

David Mullen - 9 Nov 2022

2023 Volvo EX90. Image by Volvo.2023 Volvo EX90. Image by Volvo.2023 Volvo EX90. Image by Volvo.2023 Volvo EX90. Image by Volvo.2023 Volvo EX90. Image by Volvo.

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