Volvo has given us a first look at its upcoming electric SUV flagship – the EX90 – which will herald a new era for Volvo with its unveiling on November 9th. Alongside the internal combustion engine XC90, the EX90 will use the new SPA2 EV-only platform, eventually replacing the XC90.
The new teaser images show that Volvo’s “Thor’s Hammer” headlight signature will be adopted and the taillights will have an L-shape. We can also see a sleek front grille, flush door hands and aerodynamically efficient alloy wheels. As an EV, aerodynamics are key with the EX90 and Volvo claims an impressive drag coefficient of 0.29 for its large electric SUV.
We already have a pretty good idea of what the new EX90 will look like from the outside. Our exclusive images – derived from patent drawings filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office – indicate an evolutionary design over the XC90, but the EX90’s tech suite will far exceed its predecessor. The Swedish company has confirmed that bi-directional charging will be available, allowing the EX90 to power external electrical devices and feed energy back into a home.
The system will also be able to charge other electric Volvos, and the company’s charging management software could reduce energy costs for the user by charging during periods of low demand. When energy demand is high, the car can also sell energy back to the grid, although these functions depend on specific market rules.
“We are merging our understanding of the external environment with our more detailed understanding of driver attention. When all of our security systems, sensors, software and computing power come together, they form a preemptive shield around you – and you won’t even know it’s there until you need it.”
Among the systems offered on the EX90 as a result is a new LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) setup that uses a scanning laser light to detect objects ahead. For example, Volvo claims the tech can pick up a tire lying on the road up to 120 meters ahead of the car’s path, while picking up pedestrians up to 250 meters down the road.
This detection method works at highway speeds as well as day and night; Unlike a camera-based system, no light is required for the LIDAR to work, so the level of protection offered is the same regardless of driving conditions. According to Volvo, LIDAR can reduce accidents with serious consequences by up to 20 percent and improve overall accident avoidance by nine percent.
In the EX90, the LIDAR system is accompanied by five radars, eight cameras and 16 ultrasonic sensors. The latter includes parking sensors, for example, while much of the other technology is still used for pedestrian detection and lane departure warning, as well as convenience features like all-round visibility when parking and semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control.
Sustainability is key inside the EX90. According to Volvo, 50 kg of recycled plastics and “bio-based materials” are used in the design of the interior. The cabin design itself should follow a new, minimalist design ethos, although buyers can choose from seven different “rooms” – design schemes that combine different materials and colors.
The EX90 will also feature numerous interior safety technologies, including a driver understanding system that includes two cameras aimed at the driver to understand their concentration and alertness.
The technician observes a driver’s gaze patterns and measures how much time is spent concentrating on the road. Volvo believes that by focusing on their thoughts and not on the task of driving, a driver can actually become overly focused on the road and suffer from cognitive distraction. Apparently paying too little attention on the road shows they are being visually distracted, possibly by a cell phone or other device.
Combined with a capacitive steering wheel sensor that knows when the driver is grabbing the wheel, the Gaze Monitoring technology will attempt to build up a database of driver behavior data and intervene in different ways if necessary.
This can be done through a simple warning, the volume of which increases depending on the severity of the hazard detected by the system, or the car can even come to a standstill itself at the side of the road and activate the hazard warning lights if the driver fails to intervene once arrived.
In keeping with the all-electric powertrain offering, the EX90’s grille has been ditched to reduce drag, with the new car being based on Volvo’s new SPA2 platform, which features a fully flat floor to house the car’s battery. Details of the propulsion system and target range have not yet been announced, although teaser images inside indicate a range of at least 302 miles.
Originally it was thought that the new car could be called “Embla”. However, Volvo changed its CEO in March this year, and Brit Jim Rowan took over. This may have been a key factor in the brand’s U-turn on the car’s name; Volvo also has the EX60, EX40, ES60, ES90, EV60 and EV90 trademarks, possibly for all-electric versions of its smaller SUVs and its sedan and station wagon models.
As such, there will be no petrol-only or diesel-only versions of Volvo’s next big SUV to compete in the big SUV segment with cars like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg. In fact, Volvo is aiming for 50 percent of its sales to come from fully electric models by 2025, and the company aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2040.
The new EXC90 will introduce a new generation interior for Volvo. According to the Concept Recharge that introduced this new car, the EX90 will still use a central touchscreen in portrait mode, but the panel will be integrated into a much more minimalist environment. The steering wheel in the teaser image is also new and will feature touch-sensitive buttons rather than physical buttons. In fact, it looks like there are hardly any physical controls in the cabin, as most of the car’s controls are operated via the touchscreen.
The central 15-inch display will run new generation software called VolvoCars.OS and will sit on a floating dashboard; The purely electric drive train and the underfloor batteries make a center tunnel superfluous, create more space in the interior and at the same time increase practicality. Given the XC90’s seven-seat capacity, we expect Volvo to offer the EX90 with seven seats as well.
Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs currently on sale…