Volvo Puts Pedal Down to Bring Next-generation, All-American Volvo XC90 to Market

volvo puts pedal down to bring next generation all american volvo xc90 to market

The Chinese-owned Swedish brand’s first U.S. assembly plant, which is about to launch into production of the next-generation S60 sedan, will gain a second exclusive product in the form of the next-gen XC90.

As the priciest vehicle bearing a Volvo Cars badge, the XC90 remains a huge part of the brand’s — presence and profits — in the United States. And, when sole production of the model comes to the Southeast factory in just three years, workers will be tasked with building a model capable of Level 4 autonomy and all-electric driving. It’ll be a challenge, Volvo’s CEO says, but it’s necessary.

The automaker hopes to export as many Volvos built at the new plant, located near Charleston, as it builds for U.S. consumers. That’s about 150,000 vehicles a year.

“The U.S. is the biggest market for the XC90, so it’s natural to start there,” Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Automotive News last week at a grand opening event last week. “We need a second car for the factory.”

Samuelsson acknowledged the fairly tight time frame for the new XC90 and the fact that automaker’s U.S. division must have suppliers and employees in place well before the SUV’s scheduled to begin production. Assembly begins in 2021, and Volvo’s the new kid on the block.

“It’s a challenge,” Samuelsson admitted. “We need to be a global company, we need to master that.”

The presence of other premium automakers in the region means a pool of available talent. Mercedes-Benz and BMW already assembly vehicles in South Carolina, and local suppliers could be of use to this European manufacturer.

The upcoming XC90 will ride atop a second-generation version of the brand’s Scalable Product Architecture, called SPA 2. At the plant opening — where Volvo displayed the 2019 S60 — both Samuelsson and R&D boss Henrik Green said the next XC90 would arrive with an available battery electric powertrain. That adds complexity to the supply chain, if not the vehicle. Speaking of complex, drivers of the XC90 might be able to hand over driving duties to the vehicle in certain situations, assuming they paid for the optional Highway Pilot system.

The Level 4 system, which uses lidar to see ahead of the vehicle, would only be functional on highways mapped for its use, though it’s still a question mark as to whether U.S. lawmakers will approve its use on American roads.

In May, Volvo XC90 sales in the U.S. rose 30.1 percent, year over year, with volume over the first five months of 2018 up 37.3 percent.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

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  • Stanley Steamer Stanley Steamer on Jun 25, 2018

    Yeah! More bargain priced lemon buybacks to choose from!

  • Asdf Asdf on Jun 26, 2018

    Sigh... "The Chinese-owned Swedish brand." WHY IS IT SO F***ING HARD TO ADMIT THAT VOLVO IS NOT SWEDISH, BUT CHINESE?!?!?!?!?!? TTAC must be on Geely's payroll, there can be no doubt about that.

    • Garrett Garrett on Jun 26, 2018

      What is Chinese about it? That’s like saying Chrysler was German, and is currently Italian. Where is the HQ? Sweden. Where are the decisions made? Sweden. Can you point to anything “Chinese” about Volvo besides corporate ownership? Didn’t think so.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.