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Volvo’s electric cars are understated, built to last, and designed entirely with user experience in mind. The company’s latest EX90 exudes just that and recently made its first U.S. appearance at CES in Las Vegas.
This seven-seater SUV is fully electric and comes with a souped-up 25-speaker 3D sound system, powered by Dolby Atmos, and made by Bowers & Wilkins. Jorge Furuya, Head of Car UX at Volvo Cars, says the partnership with tech brand Bowers & Wilkins was almost natural. “Bowers & Wilkins is a brand that exudes quality, and I think the values of our brands are very compatible.” Volvo wanted a speaker design that filled up the cabin space of the car, without feeling too jarring or “in your face.” The audio system was specifically designed to suit the build of the car taking into account the seating arrangement and even the placement of the headrest in the EX90 — the car actually boasts an in-built speaker in the headrest itself.
While we haven’t had a chance yet to get inside the car ourselves and test out the speaker system in the EX90, Furuya says the car features the kind of high-end audio that beats most sound systems in your home.
The immersive sound system is not the only useful feature of this car. The EX90 boasts a cutting-edge lidar sensor, that’s designed to help drivers navigate seamlessly in low-light conditions. “What the lidar technology brings to the car is the ability to not just rely only on what the human eye can see but also the three-dimensional detection of objects,” says Furuya.
The new lidar sensor is placed high up top in the front of the car which Furuya says is to keep it from getting dirty or getting damaged during a fender bender. The lidar itself can perceive objects up to 250 meters in front of the car, and lets the driver know by subtle visual and sound cues that there’s something in front of the vehicle that they need to be aware of. Furuya emphasizes that Volvo wanted to keep sound cues to a minimum. “We know that if you’re in a stressful situation and then the car starts beeping at you, it just compounds and makes you more stressed, so we are very mindful about using sounds in the vehicle.”
Each tech element of the car is built around Volvo’s three major pillars (safety, sustainably and personalization) and one thing that truly emphasizes personalization is the addition of a large-screen tablet in every Volvo car. This tablet essentially functions as a control panel and is powered by Google’s Android. This means you can access all your favorite Google apps, including Maps or Contacts and even apps like Spotify, for example. This tablet though isn’t something you can just ‘buy’ at the store. Each tablet is specifically designed to strict automotive standards, which means it can withstand harsh UV light or the general vibrations of the car over time, without ever giving out — and it’s specifically made for Volvo.
Furuya also emphasizes that every feature involving the tech and safety of the car was made entirely with user experience in mind. “We are constantly using this magnifying glass to look into technology and understand what clear benefit it’s going to bring to our customers,” says Furuya. “It’s about people just hopping into the car and for the technologies to eventually become invisible, like the seatbelt”
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Furuya finishes by adding that technology should be simple and accessible, and that’s what Volvo hopes to achieve with the EX90 and future EVs.
The Volvo EX90 is available to buy in 2024 and can be reserved through the Volvo website right now.