If you’ve been eagerly waiting for Volvo's first electric minivan, then we have some good news for you. The first units of the EM90 have already rolled off the production line, with deliveries scheduled to begin next month. Although the 7-seat Volvo goes on sale initially in China only, there’s a sliver of hope that it will reach other markets as well.
Volvo EM90 came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced last year. It’s a completely new market for the Swedish company, but its Chinese owners (Geely) felt an electric minivan with a Volvo badge would sell well in the Middle Kingdom.
It wasn’t a very demanding project either, since EM90 and Zeekr 009 are essentially twins. Both share the same SAE EV platfrom which underpins so many other vehicles owned by the Geely Group. Both Smart #1 and Smart #3 are built on it, the latest Zeekr 007 and the oldest in the lineup Zeekr 001 are built on it, and Lotus Eletre and Emeya both share it as well. Heck - Polestar 4 is the latest addition to be built on this highly flexible platform.
The Chinese MPV market is quite busy and electric minivans are a new category - all fighting for the upmarket customer. Volvo EM90 comes at the high end of that market with a price starting at $115,000 - not cheap by any means, but it comes well equipped. Standard layout offers 6 individual seats in 3 rows, Bowers & Wilkins 21-speaker audio system comes as standard. There’s a 15.6” screen for the middle and rear rows that descends from the headliner and provides a cinematic experience.
The 205 inches long EM90 is marketed as a luxury MPV and as such the company opted for a rather underwhelming powertrain. The 200 kW (268 hp) electric motor powers only rear wheels, and it offers a “royal” performance - 0 to 62 mph takes a leisurely 8.3 seconds. On the other hand, the 116 kWh battery pack promises uninterrupted travel up to 459 miles, which for a vehicle of this size is commendable.
Despite being pretty much identical to the Zeekr 009, Volvo is aimed at completely different customers. Even the AWD 536 hp version of the Zeekr 009 equipped with 140 kWh Qilin battery is $40,000 cheaper than the Volvo. Clearly, Geely believes that the Volvo badge offers a premium experience and is more than happy to charge for it.
The first electric MPV from Volvo is manufactured at Geely’s plant in Hangzhou, alongside its cousin Zeekr 009. The plant itself is very versatile as it produces Polestar 4, Zeekr 001, and its performance version the FR, as well as Jiyue 01, an electric SUV designed with autonomous driving as its main feature. The Hangzhou plant has a 300,000-vehicle production capacity.
Volvo EM90 is heading out to showrooms soon, with the first Chinese customers scheduled to take delivery in March. There is no word yet whether Volvo will make it to other markets, while Zeekr made some of its vehicles available in Europe, it is keeping the 009 for the Chinese market only. It suggests, hopefully, that Geely is making a strategic decision and is in fact planning to bring Volvo at least to Europe. Although, an electric MPV with a decent range would feel most at home in the good old US of A.
We won’t have to wait too long for the answers, thankfully. Volvo is reshaping its EV strategy with its recent move to pull the plug on funding for Polestar. Both companies will benefit from that move - Polestar will be more independent, and Volvo will be able to focus more on its own EV portfolio. Which again favors bringing an electric MPV to many more markets outside of China to expand its portfolio.