Opening a new coffee jar should be a pleasant experience
September 2022 saw the millionth electric powered vehicle registered in the UK. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), practically a quarter of a million leccies were registered in the same year. Consider that the overall year to date figures includes over 85,000 hybrids of one form or another, along with 91,000 petrol driven machines. Favourite of old, diesel, mustered just over 10,000 sales, a sign of the times when overall sales are expected to encroach on 1.4 million cars for the year.
The UK’s top spot has been a race between the Liverpudlian Vauxhall Corsa and Newcastle’s Qashqai – 29,000 units each with the bronze headed to the blue oval’s Puma, an increasingly popular sight, especially in lime green.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive observed, “September has seen Britain’s millionth electric car reach the road, an important milestone in the shift to zero emission mobility. Battery electric vehicles make up but a small fraction of cars on the road, so we need to ensure every lever is pulled to encourage motorists to make the shift if our green goals are to be met.”
And how does the Swedish/ Chinese conglomerate, Volvo react? By unveiling the EX90, the habitually strong selling XC90’s replacement. Destined for a 2024 release, the EX is a supercomputer dressed in a prosaically designed body shape with seating for seven and four driven wheels, with the purpose of delivering its occupants somewhere.
Readers of this parish will understand this author’s particular fondness for Volvo. However, my vehicle’s methodologies lie within the dinosaur age. Powered by diesel and a three-box shape to, ahem, boot, this car is practically now anathema to Gothenburg as not only has the black pump had its day, but it would appear, so too the humble saloon.
The EX is, according to head honcho, Jim Rowan, “A statement for where we are and where we are going.” Design chief, Robin Page added, “We made a conscious decision not to go too crazy. Later on, we can be more playful.” Pragmatic stoicism or searching for something more eloquent, this leviathan could otherwise be easily mistaken for the marque’s smaller siblings – there’s Swedish minimalism and then there’s borderline-bland.
The removal of almost all but the essentials continue inside. A steering wheel, some actuators behind, a letter box screen for dashboard instrumentation and a whopping tablet that appears easily removed (though surely isn’t) controlling everything else. Apologies, a knurled volume wheel sits where old-fashioned vehicles once featured a gear selector. A 25 speaker (including headrests), 1600w Bowers & Wilkins stereo blaring out the Prodigy might cause you to spill your latte on the recycled material seats – cowhide no longer welcome.
Placed upon Volvo’s latest SPA2 platform, shared with similar cousin Polestar 3, the EX90’s body has a supremely slippery, for a coffee shop sized vehicle, 0.29 coefficient of drag. This must assist with the (potential) 360-mile range, and the 0-60 time of under six seconds, whilst observing Volvo’s curtailed v-max of 112mph. Initial models make do with 400bhp from the twin motors alongside 568-foot pounds. Higher specifications can unfurl over 500bhp and almost 700 of the twisting stuff, while base models offer single motors for one expects slightly more sedate progress. Dimensions are large, a nod over 2,800Kgs and 37mm over five metres in length, the car’s hips are wider than the previous incarnation, but its stance is lower.
Driving a large electric Volvo won’t be a cheap affair, either. First editions will relieve the cash buyer a Range Rover-aping £96,000 or for the monthly payee, around £1,600. Sip that cappuccino slowly as you contemplate the limited colour palette or smile smugly at how fast the 111 Kwh battery recharges.
LiDAR appears to cover almost every imaginable on (and maybe off-) road situation. Include Pilot Assist and the faintly terrifying sounding Nvidia along with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon cockpit core software, not forgetting Google based infotainment. Long gone the days of pub bores extolling the virtues of a particular engine or trim level. Nowadays, if your software isn’t available over the air, you’re history. Volvo insist such developments will increase longevity and “keep the car new.”
Which is just as well for apart from the moon landing technology, what, if anything novel has Volvo brought to the table? An ever larger and heavier machine than before that will, in most cases transport one individual from home to office, able to sip a takeaway mocha in supreme comfort and electrified silence. Should you fill ‘er up with seven and a modicum of luggage, heading off on the school run or holiday in a hilly area on a chilly morn, the range will plummet. Rather like forgetting the cup of coffee left outside on a windy day as you inspect the garden.
Now look at the vehicle objectively. It’s rather boring, plainer than milky coffee and too similar to its forbear. Volvo appears to have wasted an opportunity to conjure up something, if not melodramatic then at the very least, characterful. Page alludes to more fanciful ideas at a later stage, but for now, this is a conservative brand with a loyal following – the customer, it would seem does not welcome change.
Volvo must have conducted the relevant research, even in the hotter areas of the States where a long glass roof will impact internal temperatures and drain battery levels more.
The EX90 is an anachronism, wholly irrelevant and will doubtlessly sell like hot coffee and pastries. The Iron Mark’s electric future probably won’t include me – I prefer tea and biscuits, you see.
[*] The title’s first word refers to a Swedish phrase meaning to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with a true friend, mentioned on every official Volvo related email this author receives.
 Written late on the 10th November, the following day Page alluded to the possibility of a new saloon design. One waits, although not avidly.
 The boot swallows 310 litres of stuff if all seven seats are used, doubling when dropping the rear chairs. A “frunk” (awful phrase) might just store a 400g coffee jar.