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Volvo unveils new fully electric EM90

The premium multi-purpose vehicle taps new market demand that the auto maker says it has not explored before, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Volvo has unveiled a new fully electric premium multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), the Volvo EM90, that expands its market appeal.

It says the car is not just designed to be “a comfortable living room on the move”, but also broadens the appeal of Volvo Cars and meets more customer needs.

“It allows us to tap new market demand we’ve not explored before and broadens the appeal of the Volvo brand to more people,” says Volvo Cars CEO Jim Rowan.

The MPV category, sometimes referred to as “people carrier” cars, is growing in popularity in South Africa as a family car, and includes the likes of the Kia Carnival and Hyundai Pailisade, both reviewed in Gadget recently.

It is in Asia, however, that the MPV segment has really taken off, resulting in Volvo choosing to launch the EM90 first in China – not least because it is the world’s largest car market. And, of course, Volvo is owned by a Chinese company, Geely. A Geely sub-brand, Zeekr, is at the heart of the EM90, which is believd to be partly based on a Zeekr MVP.

“Following the reveal of the already award-winning and fully electric EX30 small SUV earlier this year, the EM90 represents the second expansion of our model portfolio in quick succession,” Volvo announced. “Both the EX30 and EM90 will help us to reach new audiences, cover more of the global automotive market and realise more profitable volume.”

The real significance of the EM90, however, lies in its expansion of the manufacruer’s EV range, as it reinforces its commitment to be a fully electric car maker by 2030. 

“In coming years we’ll roll out a whole family of new, fully electric Volvo cars, delivering on everything our customers expect from a Volvo with zero tailpipe emissions,” said the company.

“This renewed model portfolio will not only ensure that by 2030 we only sell fully electric cars around the globe, an important part of our sustainability commitments. It is also part of our journey towards profitable growth and becoming an industry leader in sustainable mobility.”

It pointed out that, while the MPV segment was a new one for Volvo, the concept goes back to the 1953 Volvo Duett, a versatile and spacious car decades before the formal arrival of the MPV segment.

Subsequently, the station wagon segment – possibly with the most boring image of any category – evolved to combine the comfort of a sedan with the spaciousness and versatility of a minivan.

Research house 360 Market Updates valued the global MPV market at US$86-billion in 2022, with slow but steady growth this decade.

Greg Maruszewski, MD of Volvo Car South Africa, says:“Local demand for electric vehicles continues to grow at an encouraging pace and we’re well aware that many high-profile South Africans appreciate the space and comfort offered by luxury MPVs.”

No date has been set for the local introduction of the EM90.

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