By on October 19, 2017

2017 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription - Image: VolvoThrough the end of September 2017, Americans have registered 13 times more Volvo V90 CCs than Volvo V90s, clarifying with purchasing habits what every auto industry observer, casual or professional, already knew.

Volvo’s surely not surprised, either. After all, if you want to acquire a low-slung Volvo V90, Volvo forces U.S. customers to actually order the car. (Perish the thought.)

Even less surprising is the frequency with which Volvo now sells wagons. Combined, the four V60 and V90 variants account for fewer than one-in-10 Volvo USA sales through the first three-quarters of 2017.

Volvo does, however, offer a small fleet of increasingly popular utility vehicles. In September, with XC90 availability improving and the new XC60 coming on stream, Volvo reported a 51-percent year-over-year uptick in utility vehicle volume, a gain of nearly 1,900 sales.

Volvo’s U.S. car sales were also on the rise in September, though the 21-percent surge on that side of the ledger was caused largely by sedans. S60 sales rose 21 percent. The newer S90 jumped 488 percent to 865 units, the fourth consecutive month above 800 units for the flagship sedan. Even excluding SUVs, wagons still only accounted for fewer than one out of every five Volvo sales.

Volvo’s wagon sales results have fallen dramatically since the first-generation XC90 arrived to fulfill the wishes of modern luxury consumers — wagons produced one-third of Volvo’s U.S. volume in 2002 — but the numbers remain just strong enough for wagons to be a key component of Volvo’s U.S. lineup.2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country Driving - Image: VolvoNo, from a volume perspective, wagons are all but trivial in the Volvo lineup. Even with recent wagon surges at Volkswagen, only 6 percent of Volkswagen’s September U.S. volume was wagon-derived. (27 percent came down to SUVs/crossovers.)

But wagons foster a level of loyalty among a very demanding buyer demographic of which Volvo doesn’t yet want to give up. Wagons are part of Volvo lore, vital protagonists in Volvo’s anthology, style icons of the future. Volvo without wagons is like Ferrari without V12s, like the Red Wings without Yzerman, birthday cake without icing.

Yes, Volvo needs wagons. Unfortunately, American car buyers don’t very much need Volvo wagons. And of the big Volvo wagons that are finding homes in the United States, almost all of them hide their wagonness with 2.3 extra inches of ground clearance and plenty of wheelarch cladding.

For Volvo’s U.S. operations, the very inclusion of the non-CC V90 in the lineup is basically a sales model experiment. There’s no marketing for the model outside its appearance on Volvo’s website. An ordered car will take three months to arrive, saving the dealers the pain of carrying inventory of an inevitably unpopular model. Building the car online — with dealer-completed transactions, of course — is what Volvo’s outgoing U.S. CEO Lex Kerssemakers calls “a win-win situation.”

It’s such a victorious solution that a grand total of 120 customers have taken Volvo up on the offer so far.

[Images: Volvo Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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34 Comments on “To Date, There Are 13 Volvo V90 Cross Countrys in America for Every Standard Volvo V90...”

  • avatar

    “An ordered car will take three months to arrive,”

    I feel like I should order one simply as a matter of principle. I would love this to succeed so dramatically that it opens the door for other manufactures to offer highly customized vehicles.

    One would think that in the era of just in time manufacturing you’d be able to order anything you want not just LE, SE and XLE in three colors.

    • 0 avatar

      “that it opens the door for other manufactures to offer highly customized vehicles”

      The word is “manufacturer”. You know who manufactures cars? A manufacturer. They exist for the manufacture of automobiles.

      You know who digs holes? A digger. Not a dig.

    • 0 avatar

      This is what really amazes me. How can waiting for a car for only three months be an insurmountable threshold? Basically every new car in Europe is customer tailored, and I wouldn’t want to pay for colours, extras or a motor/tranny combo I don’t really want. Trabant customers had to wait for up to 18 years, but 3 months do really pass in a heartbeat, so who cares?

    • 0 avatar

      Manufacturers are slimming down their options to lower build variability and thus production costs. That has nothing to do with whether the car is ordered by the customer or by the dealer and won’t change if special ordering increases unless you (and everyone else) is willing to start coughing up more money for the car.

      Note when you special order a car usually the manufacturer does not immediately go and start building your car when they get the order. They look at their production and determine when they are building cars with similar options as yours and where you can be slotted in with minimal special effort on their part. That is why build times vary for even the same car. The more bespoke often the more you wait and your order can even be rejected.

      • 0 avatar

        Depends on the manufacturer. BMW builds every single car they make to someone’s order. Whether that someone is a dealer or an individual makes no difference to the factory. I suspect this is true of all the premium European makes, as they all sell mostly build to order outside of NA anyway. The tour of the 3-series factory in Munich is worth the trip.

        On the East Coast, BMW can often deliver a special order car in about six weeks. Mine arrived in five the first time, and eight the second due to needing some touchup in the port. I hit a rock with the front spoiler parking in Italy.

  • avatar

    Wait, Volvo has sold 14 V90 wagons so far? Or are you extrapolating from a smaller total in order to arrive at a 1-based ratio?

    My take: Drove the V90 XC, liked it okay, but for the money I’d go Mercedes. What would improve it? Sightlines, dammit! So I guess that’s why the crossovers sell. I couldn’t give a rip about sitting up high — in fact, it’s a little unsettling to me. But it seems like that’s the only way to see out of most vehicles anymore.

  • avatar

    So… Does the dealer have to have a customer name attached to the order or can they order one in what they feel is a “popular” configuration and then sit on it?

  • avatar

    The idea that the V90CC (or XC70, for that matter) is a “crossover” and “totally not a wagon!!!!” doesn’t seem plausible to me.

    It’s wagon shaped.

    Ooh, it’s TWO INCHES taller, that’s it!

    It’s cladding!?!

    No, it’s a farkin’ station wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      Just to clarify: “And of the big Volvo wagons that are finding homes in the United States, almost all of them hide their wagonness with 2.3 extra inches of ground clearance and plenty of wheelarch cladding.”

      That’s not hiding jack from anyone. It’s a station wagon. Looking at it, it’s a station wagon.

      An Outback is a station wagon, too. Everybody but auto journalists seems comfortable with this concept.

      Remember, the ol’ Country Squire was not a ground-hugging lowered euro-wagon; *wagons get to have some ground clearance*. It’s okay.

      They can even have AWD without being Totez Diff’rent Crossovers.

      They’re wagons.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        Not in my opinion. If I want something jacked up, I’ll buy a CUV. If I want a wagon, I want something riding at the same height as a sedan. Its like trying to say an Outback is a wagon. Not IMHO. To me, a wagon should drive just like a sedan, not a wollering raised up CUV. 2.3 inches is significant. So in my opinion, the only reason people are buying the jacked up versions is because they are jacked up and are really CUV with a longer backend. Its the same principal that I’d be interested in a Jetta Wagon, and not a jacked up Jetta Alltrack because one is a proper wagon, and the other is not.

        I don’t think its a bad thing because most of these jacked up wagons have more cargo space.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Back in the day, people (mainly Europeans) would just order the wagon with the “rough road package” and get their extra inch or two of lift that way. The idea that the lifted wagon has become the starting point — and not the other way around — is baffling. It bugs me about the Subaru Outback, as well. I want something in between a Legacy and Outback, but there’s not really an option there.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed! Similar to the Outback. Yes, it grew from the 2005-2009 generation and it’s heavier, but it’s still a wagon.

      And, I love the look of the regular V90, but those sidewalls are ridiculous. Way too low-profile!

    • 0 avatar

      What the lifted wagons do is basically going back to the ground clearance of cars of the 90s. Newer cars sit so low particularly to save gas (and to please the press with good lap times). Even on bad roads alone the extra couple of inches can make a difference of having debris/potholes hit your car or miss it.

  • avatar

    While they’d sell very few of them, the V90 wagon would look absolutely stunning in a showroom. While the look shares much with the XC90, it’s more complete design to my eyes. Volvo has now priced itself to a level where potential customers care a lot about image. If Subaru can’t really make the case for an honest wagon, it’s hard to see Volvo doing so.

  • avatar

    Still, if I won a lottery of a certain minimum threshold, this is the car I’d buy, just because I could, and I’ve always had a weird thing for Volvo wagons. I’d order it and do the European delivery package/ vacation option.

    • 0 avatar

      I just built one on the Volvo site. Your lottery winnings would have to be more than $68,110 as that’s the price of a well-equipped r-design. I’m sure the signature would be into the $70s.
      I would love a Volvo wagon but fvck me, that’s some serious cash! I could buy a gently used GT350 and a Buick Roadmaster wagon and still have plenty of money left over to have fun with. I’m not sure who is going to buy these things; they’re hoping that the small fraction of people who want a Volvo want a wagon and of that even smaller population, they can afford to wait three months AND they’re in the top 5% of incomes. I’m surprised they’ve sold as many as they have!

      • 0 avatar

        This is the biggest problem for the V90. For what it is, it costs too much. That is Mercedes wagon money, and the people with that sort of cash generally want the three pointed star.

        Portland (Maine) Volvo had a pair of V90s in the showroom, so at least one dealer is ordering them for stock. But that is Maine, where people actually buy wagons.

        For perspective, I had my 328! wagon in for annual inspection last week and the local BMW dealer had as many 3-series wagons in stock as they had X3s. Probably unique in the country. The local Mercedes dealer always has a selection of wagons too.

  • avatar

    You state “mericans have registered 13 times more Volvo V90 CCs than Volvo V90s, clarifying with purchasing habits what every auto industry observer, casual or professional, already knew.”

    And yet you know it’s a special order vehicle with no advertising so why make that statement?

    We already know Americans do not buy wagons that cost as much as CUV’s SUV’s. Where is the incentive to buy the V90 in regular or CC when the XC90 which is more practical is the same price?

    If the V90 was $5k-$10k less you may get more takers.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t help that you can’t order the v90 with the 400hp T8 drivetrain. No way in hell I’m paying $60k for a wagon powered by a tiny overstressed 4 cylinder.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought that they all had the garbage 4 cylinder now?

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, I believe all V90s have 4 cylinders. I love the look of the car but the 4 cylinder gives me pause.

        • 0 avatar

          Absolutely. I’m that weirdo who just can’t get used to four-pots in this price range. I drove a mid-$50k V90 and the drivetrain just felt too much like my wife’s old Saturn L-series with the GM Ecotec. A far cry from the buttery smoothness of a BMW I6, Mercedes V6, or any Lexus V6/8.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah, for the money, it’s hard to justify a 4-cylinder. I’m sure that it’s a far cry from the 4-cyl trash I drove when I was younger, but I worry just how much turbo/supercharging you can stuff down the throat of a little engine and still expect it to remain reliable and smooth.
            The other side of that is, I did drive an Ecoboost 6 in an Expedition and it was far better than the 5.4 Triton it replaced. Who knows, maybe this could work out.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m the other weirdo. No I4 in this price range. If I could get the R-Design Polestar i6 from the 2013/14 XC60? No you’re talking to me!

  • avatar

    What limited XC90 availability? It has been out a couple of years.

  • avatar

    Dunno don’t know which is better, CX90 vs V90, but I like and need to drive sitting higher up.
    But both expensive so I still want to see the Regal wagon to see if I would buy over a crossover

  • avatar

    This speaks more to the availability of the CC on the lot than anything else. It stands to reason that the V90 you have to special order would sell fewer units.

  • avatar

    Good looking wagon–much prettier than the CC version.

    I have no problem waiting 3 months for an ordered car and have done so on a number of occasions (including a Volvo).

    We have no need for a vehicle of this configuration (either wagon or crossover) in our fleet at this time, otherwise I’d be looking at this wagon.

    Pity Volvo is dropping the manual transmission.

  • avatar

    Seems like Volvo decided to import a bunch of v90’s anyway. Look on and there are like 42 in the country for sale.

  • avatar

    As a wagon driver, I’d say that there really is no point to wagons.

    CUV/SUV gives you cargo space and a few extra inches of ground clearance so from practicality POV there is no sense in buying a wagon at all.
    If you want a nice driving car then buy a sedan or a coupe which will always handle better than the wagon.

    The only reason I bought a wagon is to drive something different from most other people, that’s it. It sits very low to the ground so it’s always nerve wracking to drive it to make sure you don’t rip off your bumper on some slightly higher than average speed bump. But it does drive very nice and almost no one has one like mine :)

    • 0 avatar

      The point is that the wagon is better to drive and ride in. You can’t lift a vehicle several inches into the air and make it ride and handle the same. It will either ride worse or handle worse, or in many cases both. My 328! wagon will go around a track or a winding country road just as well as the sedan, but still hold an assembled gas grill in the back. While unlike an X3, not riding like a buckboard wagon. The pointless version is the sedan.

  • avatar

    First it was Infinity with its QX models, now Volvo. Don’t they realize those are Nash/Rambler front ends?

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