Despite the fact it seemed like seven-seat SUVs, crossovers and even fancy estates were killing them off, the MPV is seeing a sudden resurgence in popularity with manufacturers - and the latest entrant to the fold is this Volvo EM90. It's not confirmed for Ireland, or even Europe as yet, but if it makes it here, you're looking at a high-end luxury people carrier with an electric powertrain capable of up to almost 740km on a single charge.
Uses Zeekr 009 as its basis
The EM90 leverages Volvo's in-house connections, through parent company Geely, to Chinese firm Zeekr. While this young start-up car company is already planning to bring its 001 shooting brake and X SUV models to Europe, in its homeland it has another vehicle called the 009. And it's this which forms the basis of the EM90.
This is most apparent in the Volvo MPV's overall shape and the lines surrounding the glasshouse, but as is typical of platform-/body-sharing projects in the automotive world these days, what differentiates the EM90 is that it has different front- and rear-end styling - to reflect Volvo's corporate look in terms of headlamps and taillight clusters - as well as a Swedish-designed interior.
If the EM90 is confirmed for this part of the world, it would follow on from the EX30 and EX90 electric vehicle (EV) reveals from Volvo in recent months, and previews a whole new family of zero-emissions models from the company due to land between now and 2030.
Despite the fact the Zeekr 009 made it to market first, the overall styling of this large MPV was carried out by Geely's styling house in Gothenburg, the home of Volvo. And the timing of the reveal coincides with the 70th anniversary of the launch of the Volvo Duett, a utility vehicle from 1953 which the company says is the obvious precursor in its history to the EM90 - which is nevertheless its first official MPV to make it to market.
Six-seater layout for maximum comfort
The EM90 has a six-seater cabin, arranged in a 2-2-2 formation for maximum luxury. Volvo wants travelling in it to be akin to being in "your living room on wheels", so the aim here is to provide a thoroughly cosseting experience for passengers, rather than outright human occupancy numbers.
Power comes from a 200kW (272hp) electric motor hooked up to a 116kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That's enough for a 0-100km/h time of 8.3 seconds, but perhaps more pertinently a quoted 738km of one-shot driving range. Even when it does need a charge, Volvo says the EM90 can go from 10-80 per cent capacity in its battery in less than half-an-hour.
There's no word whether the more potent dual-motor Zeekr 009 powertrain, which sticks another 200kW motor into the mix for an overall 544hp and a 4.5-second 0-100km/h time, will make it into the EM90. That set-up also has an even bigger 140kWh battery pack.
The EM90 runs on 19- or 20-inch aerodynamically optimised alloy wheels, with dual-chamber air suspension to smooth out the ride. It is also said to have "top-notch" sound isolation, as well as road-noise cancellation from onboard technology. And if all that doesn't work, then occupants can drown out all other noises with a 21-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system with its concert hall acoustics.
Further, there's a digital instrument cluster in the EM90, as well as a 15.4-inch infotainment screen in the centre of the dash. This is accompanied by a 15.6-inch high-def screen that folds down out of the roof for rear-seat passengers, allowing for entertainment or even business meetings in the back of the MPV. And, as is demanded of any Volvo, safety levels will be impressive, thanks to a generous level of cutting-edge advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).
'High level of premium in every detail'
Jim Rowan, chief executive at Volvo Cars, said: "With the EM90, we're taking Volvo Cars' heritage and leadership in safety into the exciting new electric MPV segment. It allows us to tap new market demand we've not explored before and broadens the appeal of the Volvo brand to more people.
"The EM90 is a supremely comfortable electric car with a smart cabin, fast charging, a competitive driving range, Volvo's unique design language and a high level of premium in every detail. But far more important is what it does for you. It gives you room to connect. Room to create. Room to relax. Room for you and for those around you."
If the Swedish firm does decide to greenlight the EM90 for Europe, it would go up against the likes of the Lexus LM and Mercedes V-Class in the top-end luxury MPV sector, while Volkswagen also offers highly desirable alternatives in the form of its combustion-/hybrid-powered Multivan and fully electric ID. Buzz.