Volvo Debuts the EM90 Not as a Minivan, But As a Living Room

This odd electric MPV is meant for the Chinese market — at least for now

The Volvo EM90 is the luxury brand’s first minivan, with the first examples headed to China.

Historically, we all knew this Swedish automaker (now under Geely’s umbrella) as a station wagon brand. It evolved into crossover production out of necessity, given the huge demand, but you’d never in a million years think the company would branch out into minivans…right? That’s exactly what we have here, though, by way of the new Volvo EM90. After more than two months of teasers, the brand’s electric van finally makes its debut in Shanghai. It’s not just an MPV, though: Volvo says it designed the EM90 “to be a comfortable living room on the move”.

The fact that it is a big box, in essence, does make its case better than your common variety SUV. The EM90 does bring similar cues to its SUV counterpart, with a faux grille and Volvo’s iconic, pixelated Thor’s Hammer headlights making the first impression. At the back, you get thin LEDs stretching up into the roof line (another Volvo design classic) and into the tailgate, framing the illuminated Volvo wordmark with a pinch of chrome and gloss black trim.

What powers the EM90, though?

Before we dig a bit deeper into Volvo’s living room claim, though, it’s worth looking under the skin. The car debuts with a 116-kWh battery pack (slightly larger than the EX90), and comes powered by a single 268-horsepower (200 kW). That power output is exactly the same as the base model EX30 crossover, which serves as both an entry-level electric model within the Volvo brand and a demonstration of its scalable EV platform.

With such a large battery on-board, though, Volvo claims a remarkable range of 459 miles (738 kilometers) on a single charge. That is using the Chinese “CLTC” standard, though, which tends to skew roughly 35% higher than EPA estimates, according to Inside EVs. If this vehicle were ever to come to the U.S. (for now, Volvo seems firm on keeping this a China-specific model), that would translate to about 321 miles.

Volvo says the EM90 can accelerate from 0-60 in a fairly leisurely 8.3 seconds, though Chinese drivers can charge it up from 10-80% state-of-charge in under 30 minutes. Rather than stupidly massive wheels, this electric van also gets 19- or 20-inch “aero” wheels to aid driving range.

The EM90 is a theater on wheels

Apart from the dry and technical matter of making the EM90 move, Volvo focused much of their talking points on creating a living space for front and rear passengers.

Sink into what Volvo calls the “lounge seat”, and the EM90 offers up a screen in front of the driver for the main controls, rather than baking them into the infotainment screen. The central 15.4-inch display offers up more real estate for navigation or media controls, then, as well as a way to “connect with the car in an interactive in fun way” through Volvo’s voice assistant, so the automaker claims.

Rear passengers, for their part, get a 15.6-inch screen that folds down from the roof for their entertainment. Not only does it support smartphone projection (i.e. “casting”), but it also includes a camera for business video meetings. Again, remember the market for which Volvo designed this van. A switch or command to the voice assistant changes the EM90 into a “theater, meeting room or a bedroom for the rear seats”, adjusting the displays, seats, windows, lighting and air conditioning to suit.

Would you want something like this in America?

Of course, the Volvo EM90 is not currently slated to reach the U.S. market anytime soon, if ever. We’ll get the EX90 instead, while Volvo aims to launch this EM90 minivan first in China. There’s a richer customer base over there, Volvo posits, and parent company Geely owns another brand that sells the van on which the EM90 is based: the Zeeker 009 MPV.

Even if we won’t ultimately get the EM90, we will continue to see more EVs on the company’s SEA platform, which is a scalable electric architecture underpinning the EX90, the EX30 and the Polestar 4, among others.