Volvo has confirmed that its all-electric successor to the XC90 – the EX90 – will be unveiled on November 9 ahead of the start of sales in early 2023.
Though only a teaser image of the large SUV has been provided thus far, Volvo has stated that safety standards in the EX90 “will be beyond that of any Volvo before it.” This works in tandem with a new vision for the Swedish marque where no one should be seriously injured or killed in one of their new models.
“For us, safety is not a marketing exercise, or another regulation for us to clear. Safety is at the very core of our purpose,” Volvo CEO Jim Rowan, who took the helm in March this year, explains in an accompanying keynote address. “In just a few weeks, we will show you the new Volvo EX90, our first Volvo car of a new era.
“With state-of-the-art sensors and software, our next car will be able to see the world in ‘Point Cloud’. These sensors are powered by Volvo Cars’ unique combination of advanced core computing and software to enable improvement in safety in the digital age. Like the three-point seatbelt did in the late 1950s.”
The “new era” of safety at the heart of the EX90 revolves around two core pillars: ‘LiDAR’ and a new ‘driver understandings system.’ The former, working in tandem with eight cameras, five radars and 16 ultrasonic sensors, uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to create “a 360-degree real-time view of the world” to gauge the distance between vehicles, pedestrians and myriad objects on the road more accurately. Embedded in the roofline of the vehicle, LiDAR is not reliant on light, meaning it can detect pedestrians, in the dark, up to 250 metres away, and even obscured items on the road, like a dislodged tyre, up to 120 metres away. Information that is then relayed to the vehicle’s onboard driver assist systems.
With LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, Volvo predicts that the number of severe accidents could be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
The driver understanding software meanwhile, dubbed the “watchful guardian” by Volvo, uses sensors and cameras in the cabin, and a continuously updated algorithm, to guage “eye gaze concentration.” This measures how tired, inattentive or distracted the driver is, and ‘nudge’ them into focus again as required. Should the driver fall asleep, the EX90 will automatically disable the cruise control and stop.
While we know the EX90 will sit atop the Volvo Group’s SPA platform (as opposed to the ‘CMA’ architecture at the heart of the smaller, C40 and XC40 Recharge crossover/SUV), speculation as to the vehicle’s design is rife, with many stating that the large SUV will be an amended, production-version of the ‘Concept Recharge’ unveiled last June. Fittingly, the interior would likely be made using an abundance of recycled materials, and, while the more outlandish elements like four free-standing seats are unlikely to make the cut, the 15-inch, portrait-mounted touchscreen and the absence of switchgear could be implemented in-keeping with Volvo’s ‘less but better’ design philosophy.
It’s also understood that the EX90, while stepping in as Volvo’s new flagship, will not replace the XC90 in its entirety. A plug-in hybrid version will continue to be produced given both the model’s strong sales and the company’s bid to become a fully-electric carmaker by 2030.
The EX90’s previous ‘Embla’ name has also been officially discarded, a recent raft of trademark applications for the ‘ES60,’ the ‘ES90,’ the ‘EV60’ and the ‘EV90,’ among others, suggesting the large SUV is just the first of a family of electric ‘E’ counterparts Volvo intends to introduce alongside its tenured V60 and V90 stations wagons, and S60 and S90 sedans.