Presentation of the Volvo EM90: electric minibus with 116 kWh battery

Presentation of the Volvo EM90: electric minibus with 116 kWh battery

At first glance it may seem surprising: in many places the van offer from car manufacturers is already history or its end is in sight. Volvo, on the other hand, enters this segment for the first time in the company’s history. But the all-electric Volvo EM90 is not actually a van and the target group is less families and more corporate customers. What is the brand doing?


Even if Volvo calls the EM90 a van: at 5.21 m in length it is more of a bus in the format of a Mercedes V-Class, which reaches up to 5.37 m in length, and therefore not a van with compact dimensions suitable for relaxed tours recommended by the big city. The EM90 is therefore positioned more as a luxury business hauler, and Volvo has apparently identified a market for this mainly in China. The EM90 can already be configured there, and the price makes it clear that families are not the focus: the equivalent of 106,000 euros is quoted. Key data provided by Volvo clearly indicates that the EM90 will not be a special offering in Europe either.

In many respects, the Volvo EM90 follows the proven concept of a company transporter. This also includes space-saving but wide-opening sliding doors. (Image: Volvo)

The first images show a nobly furnished interior with six individual seats and numerous large screens. There is also a back massage. As for infotainment, Volvo currently uses the Snapdragon Cockpit platform from Qualcomm Technologies as its basis. The foundations of the software come, of course, from Google. With Android Automotive as the operating system, consumer electronics should be able to be expanded to a certain extent via an App Store. The smartphone can be configured as a car key.

Of course, updates are sent via the mobile network. Volvo has already announced one thing. In this way a noise reduction system is adapted. The opposing sound waves are intended to counteract the noise. The principle is not new and has varying degrees of success: a Ford Mondeo Hybrid did not become particularly quiet while driving, but in a Genesis GV70 Electrified we had the impression that this countersound effectively complemented the insulation. Volvo audio systems have a good reputation. In EM90, Bowers & Wilkins will again be the supplier. With just under 2.5 kW of power, even those who absolutely want to share their musical pleasure with others should be satisfied.

The goal of positioning itself as high as possible on the market is also clear elsewhere. At 116 kWh, the battery is relatively large. If infrastructure and general conditions such as preconditioning are involved, charging from 10 to 80% should be completed in about 30 minutes. Translated this means: the average charging power in this window is ideally above 160 kW. Volvo has not yet commented on maximum charging performance.

The physical controls can only be seen on the steering wheel and center console. The rest: screen and – increasingly important – voice control.

(Image: Volvo)

So far there is only information about the interval of the Chinese CLTC cycle. Here 738 km are promised. Since this measurement method produces quite optimistic values, we assume significantly lower practical values. A bus of at least 2.8 tonnes with a large frontal surface area will hardly be able to cope with less than 20 kWh/100 km. On the motorway, as long as you don’t overdo it, 400 km should be reachable plus a decent safety margin.

An electric motor at the rear with 200 kW and 343 Nm serves as the powertrain. It should accelerate the EM90 to 100 km/h in a minimum of 8.3 seconds. As usual in Volvo for several years, the commotion ends at 180 km/h. Volvo will likely release a version with significantly more power soon. Because the Zeekr 009 on the same basis offers double its peak with 400 kW. Alternatively, a Qilin battery from CATL with an energy content of 140 kWh is offered. We expect the EM90 to have this memory as well.

Volvo has not yet provided specific information on when the EM90 will be available in Europe. Since the target group in Europe is very small, the manufacturer will serve other markets first. And the European competition? In terms of orientation, the newly minimally revised Mercedes EQV is very similar, but offers slightly less with an engine power of 150 kW and a maximum battery of 90 kWh. However, with a price of just under 70,000 euros, this version of the EQV is also less expensive. The long-wheelbase VW ID.Buzz is scheduled to hit the market in 2024. It has a maximum energy content of 85 kWh and an engine power of up to 250 kW, but at 4.96 m it remains slightly below the size of a Volvo EM90. The Opel Zafira Life Electric is slightly longer (5.3 m), but currently has a maximum engine output of 100 kW and 75 kWh to offer. Equipped in this way it also costs around 70,000 euros.

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