U.S. Volvo Sales Situation Getting Uglier As New XC90 Is Readied

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
u s volvo sales situation getting uglier as new xc90 is readied

We’re still a few months away from seeing the first new XC90s at Volvo dealers in North America and many more months away from discovering whether it can a single S80 in November 2014 – that’s just plain embarrassing – the U.S. situation last month was especially poor. See, it’s not just the age of the outgoing XC90 that’s been bringing down Volvo sales. The brand’s other models, almost without exception, are selling at a far slower rate this year than last year even as the U.S. auto industry expands at a healthy 5.5% clip.

The C30 and C70 left us before the second XC90 could even arrive, and their disappearance resulted in 3539 fewer January-November sales this year than in 2013.

The new V60 attracts an average of 420 buyers per month, but only 314 V60 sales were reported by Volvo in November, the model’s lowest-volume month so far.

S60 sales are down 13% this year but fell 29% to just 1017 units in November. That total marks the lowest-volume S60 month in nearly four years. (398 were sold in December 2010 when the second-generation car was ramping up.)

The always-unloved S80? Volume is down 4% to 1674 units this year and fell 10% in November to just 155 sales. No, the S80 was never popular, but Volvo USA sold an average of 11,350 S80s on an annual basis between 2002 and 2008. 2014 will be the sixth consecutive year of U.S. sales decline for the outdated sedan.

The XC70 posted a 4% gain in November and sales are up 4% to 4623 units this year. Likewise, XC60 volume was up 10% in November, but sales are down 5% in 2014 to 17,197 units. The Acura RDX and Audi Q5 sell more than twice as often; the Mercedes-Benz GLK nearly twice as often.

Brand-wide Volvo sales tumbled 14% last month as U.S. new vehicle volume rose 5% to 1.3 million units. Volvo earned 0.3% of the industry’s new vehicle volume. In 2004, the XC90’s best year, Volvo’s market share was a completely respectable 0.8%. They sold more than 39,000 XC90s that year and more than 100,000 other vehicles. In other words, the XC90 didn’t carry the brand on its own. 72% of Volvo sales in 2004 were generated by something other than the XC90. Hypothetically, if the S60, S80, V60, XC70, and XC60 could do nothing more than halt their decline in 2015, Volvo would still need to sell approximately 45,000 XC90s in order for the brand to top the 100K mark.

That’s not going to happen, particularly not in 2015, as the XC90 will be late getting started. But even if the XC90 is nothing more than a sign that Volvo has returned to form, even if it’s nothing more than sufficiently successful to halt Volvo’s decline – Volvo brand sales are down 9% in the U.S. this year – we can hope that its successors will be prepared to restore Volvo to North American health.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Mar 26, 2015

    "No, the S80 was never popular, but Volvo USA sold an average of 11,350 S80s on an annual basis between 2002 and 2008." If you look at the footprint of the P3 S80, it is very close to that of the 240 sedan which was Volvo's best seller for many years (P3 S80 does have a longer wheelbase but strangely no more leg room). 240: WIDTH 5 ft. 7.3 in. (67.3 in.) HEIGHT 4 ft. 8.3 in. (56.3 in.) LENGTH 15 ft. 9.9 in. (189.9 in.) GROUND CLEARANCE 0 ft. 4.3 in. (4.3 in.) WHEEL BASE 8 ft. 8.3 in. (104.3 in.) FRONT HEAD ROOM 37.9 in. FRONT LEG ROOM 40.1 in. REAR HEAD ROOM 36.1 in. REAR LEG ROOM 36.4 in. http://www.edmunds.com/volvo/240/1993/st-6272/features-specs/ P3 S80: WIDTH 6 ft. 1.3 in. (73.3 in.) HEIGHT 4 ft. 10.8 in. (58.8 in.) LENGTH 15 ft. 11 in. (191 in.) WHEEL BASE 9 ft. 3.6 in. (111.6 in.) FRONT HEAD ROOM 37.8 in. FRONT LEG ROOM 41.9 in. FRONT HIP ROOM 54.8 in. FRONT SHOULDER ROOM 57.4 in. REAR HIP ROOM 54.7 in. REAR HEAD ROOM 38.3 in. REAR LEG ROOM 35.0 in. REAR SHOULDER ROOM 56.3 in. http://www.edmunds.com/volvo/s80/2015/?tab-id=reviews-tab "2014 will be the sixth consecutive year of U.S. sales decline for the outdated sedan." If you believe this than the S60, V60, XC70, and pretty much every model other than the new XC90 is also outdated as they are all use the same circa 2006 platform. Volvo this model year also introduced their new I4 across the lineup of the FWDs.

    • Tostik Tostik on Mar 26, 2015

      In three years, the new XC90, coming out in April, will be the oldest model in the Volvo stable.

  • Tostik Tostik on Mar 26, 2015

    A new thread recently appeared over at the SwedeSpeed forum, called "XC-90 (2016- )". The people posting there are complaining that if they pre-order a new XC90, it won't arrive till after Sep. Volvo can't keep up with the surging demand. The other complaint is that the dealers won't budge on prices - full price or nothing. With 18,000 pre-orders for the new XC90, the abyssmal Volvo sales in the US in 2014 are starting to look like the quiet before the storm. And in 3 years, The new XC90 will be the oldest model in the Volvo stable.

  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.
  • SCE to AUX Too many cars = more wrecks. With today's speeds on essentially the same old track, starting with half the cars could reduce the congestion at the end. Or maybe it would increase the problem because the herd wouldn't thin early on.I say no overtime - finish at 500 miles and no more.
  • Garagezone There was an Indy 500 yesterday? Hmmmm...
  • Mark Morrison Sad it just reminded me how good TTAC once was … required daily reading.