Volvo debuts SC-built EX90 as ‘new era’ in safety, technological innovation
Volvo Cars took the cover off its all-electric sport-utility vehicle that will be built in South Carolina starting next year during an event that showcased the car’s safety, Scandinavian design and technological advances.
The seven-seat, battery powered EX90 — the successor to the gas-powered XC90 — was unveiled to auto industry media in Stockholm in a presentation featuring company executives, videos and synthesizer-heavy background music.
The car that Volvo is calling its new flagship vehicle will start production next year at the automaker’s $1.2 billion campus in Ridgeville and at a factory in China. Volvo said the South Carolina site will produce EX90s for the Americas and Europe.
Deliveries of the new car will begin in 2024, with a single-charge range of 300 miles and a base price of $80,000.
“This is the launch of a new era of safety, sustainability and innovation, and we are using unique Volvo technology coupled with some of the best technology from some of the best technologists that exist today,” CEO Jim Rowan said.
He added that the EX90 “is a statement for where we are and where we are going.”
The vehicle is the first all-electric model in the company’s ambitious plan to produce only battery powered cars by 2030 and to be a carbon-neutral manufacturer by 2040. It’s also a key part of Volvo’s strategy to sell 1.2 million cars annually by mid-decade, with half of those sales online rather than in traditional showrooms.
“Let there be no mistake — we are laser-focused, we are razor sharp for meeting those ambitions,” Rowan said. “Every design decision that we make, every investment decision that we make, every hiring decision that we make is geared toward that singularity and we will continue to invest in the technology and the talent that drives us.”
Standard safety features on the new car will include a rooftop lidar system designed by Luminar that can detect roadway obstacles at up to 800 feet in the dark. The vehicle will have 16 ultrasonic sensors to detect nearby objects, eight cameras and five radar systems as well as interior cameras that can detect if a driver is sick, sleepy or impaired.
“It’ll alert you, first softly nudging, then more insistent,” the company said of the interior safety feature. “And if the unthinkable happens, and you fall asleep or are taken ill while driving, the Volvo EX90 is designed to safely stop and call for help.”
Volvo described the technology available on its new car as “a highly advanced computer on wheels,” with a 5G-connected entertainment system featuring a 14.5-inch screen, Google assistant and navigation that’s also compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay.
Its design is minimalist as well as roomier and more aerodynamic than the XC90 it eventually will replace, with three rows of seating. A large battery will sit beneath a flat floor to provide more interior space in a design that’s both longer and lower than a typical SUV. In a nod to Norse mythology, the EX90 will have headlamps in the shape of Thor’s hammer.
Rowan said the EX90 will be built out of recycled steel, aluminum and plastic and “extensive use of natural fibers” as part of the company’s sustainability initiative.
The stakes are high for a successful EX90 launch, because it comes at a time when Volvo’s sales have slumped from supply chain challenges and a South Carolina worker shortage. The new SUV will join the slow-selling S60 sedan on the production line in Ridgeville, where the company will also produce an electrified Polestar 3 SUV for its sister brand.
The S60 was recently pulled from the United Kingdom after sales fell by more than 50 percent in that market, and Volvo is reportedly mulling whether that car has a future in its lineup.
The company booked just 484 sales of the S60 in the U.S. in October — down 42.2 percent from the previous year. Globally, 3,451 S60s were sold last month, with production split between the Lowcountry factory and a plant in China.
All told, Volvo’s worldwide sales have decline by about 17 percent this year and the automaker would have to more than double its volume to reach its stated goal of 1.2 million units by 2025.
The EX90 is also the first vehicle in a rollout of one new electric car per year for Volvo, which is headquartered in Sweden and owned by China’s Geely Holding Group. Its success will set expectations for battery powered vehicles that follow.
It also will initially compete with the gas-powered XC90, which remains one of Volvo’s top sellers and will be produced simultaneously as its electric successor.