60 Years of Volvo EM90 Minivan History Unveiled

Volvo Duett: First USA Importation

Volvo is feeling particularly optimistic about its upcoming EM90 electric minivan, so much so that they have compared it to the beloved Duett – a classic wagon from before the modern minivan and SUV era. In a recent post on social media, the brand declared, “50 years later, another icon is born. Meet our new MPV (multi-purpose vehicle),” and featured blurred shots of the new van alongside clear images of a charming tan and white Duett.

The phrase “multi-purpose vehicle” is the European term for what we in America call minivans, but we have a hard time believing the EM90 will be able to live up to the utilitarian and indestructible legacy of the Duett. After all, the EX90 is set to be as high-tech as they come. The Duett had a life that spanned decades, making Volvo’s estates a household name and showing that the brand could create a vehicle for the masses. It was a true multi-purpose vehicle and is still beloved by collectors today, so it’s a tough act for the EM90 to follow. Can it really compete?

The origins of the Duett can be tracked to as far back as 1949 with the production of the PV445. This was Volvo’s first endeavor at creating a practical delivery vehicle that could be configured as a van, pickup truck, convertible, or estate car thanks to customization options from multiple professional coachbuilders meeting customer desires. The ride was powered by an adept 1.4-liter four-cylinder motor providing 40 horsepower with low gearing, gaining admiration of all operators.

Volvo engineers declared that the vehicles were so sturdily crafted, leading to longer usage periods than anticipated; because of this and the decrease in popularity of coachbuilders, Volvo’s President Assar Gabrielsson commanded that the business commence to make its personal van based on the PV445 base. Erik Skoog set to the task straight away, ultimately creating the Duett after roughly twelve months in 1953.

It was called the Duett due to its double purpose, combining a work and recreational vehicle. The interior of this car was far cozier than that of the PV445, with several variations offered: van, delivery, estate, passenger estate, and 210 Duett versions.

This car experienced more popularity than its predecessors, which had been receiving continual enhancements throughout its run. Despite its charm from the 1940s era, it was retired in 1969 due to stricter crash safety regulations. Nevertheless, this vehicle was celebrated with over 100,000 having been sold around the globe during its life cycle.

Once again, Volvo has set strong foundations in the field of estate vehicles, so the EM90 will have to live up to immense expectations. At a cursory glance, the car appears similar in size and structure; however, we can be sure that this is not just a minor understandable transformation.

Thanks to recently revealed photos provided by the Chinese government, we can discern that the automobile is in fact a Zeekyr 009 through platform sharing; a product of its parent company Geely. Nonetheless, it manages to retain an individual character all its own.

Thus far, Volvo anticipates the van may only be a successful sale within the Chinese market due to their enormous desire for voluminous and opulent modes of transport. In contrast to many other nations who would lean more towards Mercs or similar, the need for larger minivan options is evident in this region; consequently, Geely considers it possible that the same model could prove profitable across the same area.

Inspecting the 009, we anticipate that there will be either a single rear motor or a double one offering 536 hp. It is slated to have considerable mileage, with the specification claiming 436 miles for a 116 kWh battery or 511 if its capacity is upped to 140 kWh. Yet, should this model come to North America, users must expect reduced range from these figures, as testing in China normally offers more ideal readings than those from the EPA.

It’s predicted to boast state-of-the-art features, luxurious materials, and perhaps too complex – a far cry from the robust and genuine Duett. So, is it really an equitable comparison? We can’t tell yet, but we’ll wait until its full presentation come out on the 16th of November before giving our definitive verdict.


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