Understatement: New Volvo XC90 Needs To Sell Well

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
understatement new volvo xc90 needs to sell well

Unless the beautiful details that have been gradually released over the last few months add up to less than the sum of our parts, it appears as though the second-generation Volvo XC90 will be an impressive machine on which to lay eyes.


The XC90 mostly went along without updates, and year after year after year, sales declined. From that 39,230-unit peak in 2004, XC90 sales fell below 19,000 units in 2008, below 10,000 units in 2012. After averaging 35,000 annual U.S. sales between 2003 and 2007 – a normal product lifecycle after which other automakers would have debuted a new version – XC90 volume averaged 11,000 annual units between 2008 and 2013.

Naturally, this has had a huge impact on the brand’s fortunes in the United States, particularly since the brand has killed off numerous products and failed to market others on this side of the Atlantic. The XC90 represented 28% of the 139,384 Volvos sold in America in 2004, 18% of the 61,433 company’s 2009 sales, 11% of Volvo’s 2013 volume, and just 9% of the 34,224 vehicles Volvo has sold through the first seven months of 2014.

The Volvo V60 wasn’t going to rescue Volvo in North America. Indeed, that fresh new wagon only sells about as often as the grey-haired SUV. Bringing back the quirky C30 wouldn’t heal the brand. Ripping up the C70’s execution order won’t do the trick. Importing the V40, though useful, would not turn Volvo from a brand that sold 61,233 vehicles in 2013 back into a brand which sold 139,384 vehicles in 2004. If Volvo has a future in North America, it will be as a direct result of the XC90’s successful launch.

Pressure’s on.

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  • Spiro Spiro on Aug 17, 2014

    Being an inquisitive and native Swede, I know the history of Volvocars and its history of owners quite well. During the ownership of Ford, the brand lost its focus. Volvo in Sweden was forced to adhere to what Ford told it to do, using Fords technology, platforms and engines. The development department in Sweden had to follow Fords directives and could not develop engines and cars in the way they wanted. The new owner Geely, have made the complete opposite compared to Ford. For 4 years Geely have poured in money for development of new models and into the production facilities in Sweden. They have actually let Volvo decide for themselves what they want to accomplish. This have resulted in a number of changes; For the first time in almost 20 years, the leadership of Volvo in Sweden are deciding the future. The new scalable platform that the new xc90 is based on, is not from Ford but developed in Sweden by Volvo. This will make sure that Volvo can update the cars much faster in the future (they are talking about 18 months for a new model). The xc90 is the first car that has no Ford components at all (and no Chinese either). The new engines they introduced this year, are also completely new under the new leadership. It has taken Volvo 4 years to change the impact of the previous ownership. I think the future for Volvo is better than it has been for a very long time. According to Geely, Volvo is a Swedish company that will decide its own future. I didn't believe it at first (we all were very hesitant about Geely), but so far it seems that they only wants Volvo to succeed and remain a Swedish company at its core.

  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Aug 18, 2014

    So would it be beneficial and politically popular if the Swedish government was to assist Geeley in buying what is left of Saab? The same company would control both companies. Volvo could concentrate on making sensible, safe and dependable people movers and Saab could concentrate on quirky rally type cars?

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