The Electric EX90 SUV Has Volvo’s Most Complex Headlights Ever

By the power of Azgard.

If you’re building a new flagship electric vehicle, there are a few essentials your car needs. First, there’s the minimalist interior, then there’s the advanced driver-assist tech and, finally, you need to give it futuristic lighting. Volvo’s new EX90 electric SUV, due out in 2024, checks each one of those boxes.

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When it finally hits the highway in 2024, the EX90 will come with an array of sensors that scan the road ahead, cameras in the car that can stop from forgetting a sleeping child, and even a way of checking if a driver’s eyes are on the road. On top of that, it’s got a minimalist interior made of sustainable fabrics and a set of headlights that Volvo says could be the most complex the company has ever fitted to a car.


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The new headlights are an evolution of the Thor’s Hammer design that Volvo first premiered on the second-generation XC90 back in 2015. Inspired by the norse god/Marvel superhero’s iconic hammer, the new flagship SUV takes the elegant outline and adds a whole heap of sparkle.

An exploded diagram of the EX90 headlights.
An exploded diagram of the EX90 headlights.

That’s a lot of parts.

“These headlights are probably the most complex headlights that we have ever built,” Gaurang Kalsaria, head of future vehicles at Volvo Cars Americas, told Jalopnik at a preview of the new car in New York City this week.

“During the daytime, we already see this Thor’s hammer design and now, at night, they will open up and shine the full LEDs through.”

The multi-element LED lights put the hammer design front and center. There are six elements that make up the head of the hammer, and a further ten that form the handle. When you’re running in daytime, these ten elements illuminate as your running lights.

A render of the EX90 with its headlights on.
A render of the EX90 with its headlights on.


But then, when you want to switch to full beams, the hammer splits open along a horizontal seam, revealing the one true headlight that can easily illuminate the road ahead.

“There’s a lot of mechanical work behind it,” says Kalsaria.

All that design isn’t just for the switch from DLR to full-beam, oh no. Volvo has also given these headlights a role in the electric SUV’s start-up sequence.

As you approach the EX90, it unlocks and pops the door handles out to greet you. At the same time, each element of the headlight flashes on in sequence, before they pop open to reveal the full-beam lights in a sort of automotive blink. It’s neat.

A render of the front end on the Volvo EX90 electric SUV.
A render of the front end on the Volvo EX90 electric SUV.

The business end.

“The lights do a little dance for you. They kind of do a little wink and then close,” explains Kalsaria “It’s just one of those features that the customers would love to show off and say “Hey, look what my car can do, it can wink.”

The updated lights will come as standard on every EX90 sold, joining the built-in lidar sensor and other array of cameras in the car’s hefty spec sheet. What do you think — are gimmick lights like this nice to see out on the road, or do you just long for the return of the pop-up headlamp?

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