Alright class, welcome back to Roger B. Smithology 101. We’ll get into today’s scheduled lesson in a few minutes, but there’s been a development in badge engineering I’d like to discuss with you. The Volvo EM90, an electric luxury minivan for the Chinese market, has leaked through China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and it feels like something GM would’ve done pre-bankruptcy. Don’t believe me? Take a closer look.
This is one of the sloppiest rebadges since the GM Crossover Sport Vans, since aside from the front clip, the wheels, and some badging, the outside of the Volvo EM90 is identical to the Zeekr 009, pictured above. Zeekr is another Geely-owned brand, and although pretty much every car manufacturer employs some form of platform-sharing, sharing this much bodywork between two models was widely considered passé around the time of the Great Recession. Between the Volvo and the Zeekr, the quarter panels look the same, the doors look the same, the greenhouse looks the same, the rear bumper looks the same, even the mirrors look the same. It’s clear that a relatively small budget went into this product, and that doesn’t spell out great things for its intended market.
As a result, Volvo had to stretch some of its styling signatures over a body that doesn’t quite fit. The signature crisp haunches just don’t exist, the greenhouse is messy, and the door handles look more Hyundai Entourage than anything. I particularly dislike how the lens for the reversing camera isn’t even tucked underneath the liftgate trim, as we should’ve just left the trend of exposed cameras in 2007. There’s a weird whiff of low-rent to the EM90’s styling, despite it starting life as a luxury product already, and despite Volvo trying to class things up.
Since the Volvo EM90 is just a Zeekr 009, expect a choice of 116 kWh or 140 kWh battery packs providing either 436 miles or 510 miles on China’s market-specific and laughably optimistic CLTC range certification cycle. Also on the expected docket? Proper luxury rear seating, although we’ll have to see how much Scandinavian minimalism makes it into the final product. The cabin of the Zeekr 009 looks incredibly well-appointed but exceptionally generic, as you can see below, so let’s hope all the development budget for this thing went into the interior styling.
From this position, the EM90 feels like it was foisted on Volvo by Geely in an odd moment of regional weirdness. Outside of China, there just aren’t many places where this vehicle would fly, so perhaps that’s why changes over the Zeekr 009 are so minimal. Needless to say, the Volvo EM90 would be a horrible brand mismatch for the American market, so don’t expect to see it here anytime soon. This minivan makes a great Zeekr, but nothing about it seems particularly Volvo.
(Photo credits: China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Zeekr)
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