Volvo EM90 electric minivan will help reshape EV lineup for China

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Volvo on Thursday announced its first minivan—in fully electric form—and confirmed the model for China.

The Swedish automaker says that the upcoming model, called EM90, is designed to make the most of time spent in the car, “like a Scandinavian living room on the move.”

The Volvo EM90 is expected to be closely based on the Zeekr 009 MPV, a model that seats six and marks the global debut of CATL’s cell-to-pack battery tech. The 009 can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds, claims a drag coefficient of just 0.27, and has next-generation Mobileye-based driver-assist safety tech. Volvo Cars is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding, and Zeekr is an affiliated brand.

2023 Zeekr 009

2023 Zeekr 009

Thanks partly to the battery tech, driving range is a Zeekr 009 strength—with CLTC-cycle numbers up to 511 miles likely equating to something near 400 EPA miles, if Volvo preserves the same battery tech and ponders U.S. sales.

The luxury van arrives at a time when Volvo is pulling back on sedan plans for some markets. It recently, for instance, opted to cut all its sedans in the UK—although it hasn’t yet announced such a move in the U.S. But with all of its sales shifting electric by the end of the decade, it’s clearly seeking to reshape its lineup, as evidenced by the $35,000 Chinese-made EX30 EV that’s U.S.-bound. 

Minivans were once a huge portion of the U.S. vehicle market, but the segment has stagnated in recent years. That’s partly due to shoppers’ migration to ruggedly styled but less practical SUVs, partly due to a lack of innovation in the segment. 

Most recently, Toyota gave its minivan a new spin starting in 2021 with a hybrid-only Sienna that seats up to eight and is rated at 36 mpg. 

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

There’s already a plug-in minivan offered in the U.S. market. Since 2017, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid—actually a plug-in hybrid—has offered 32 electric miles on a charge, then 30 mpg combined in hybrid mode. As data from the automaker supports, that model boasts a 24% reduction in lifetime carbon emissions vs. a non-hybrid minivan. 

Chrysler has indicated that it isn’t done with the minivan market yet, and it has said that it’s looking to once again reinvent the minivan in electric form in its future lineup. 

The EM90 will be revealed on November 12, 2023, and pre-orders for customers in China will start that same day according to Volvo.

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