SUVs are the hottest market segment, even hotter than pickup trucks, if you can believe that. Volvo introduced its all new XC90 SUV last year, then watched Americans gobble them up, powering sales in America ahead 24% ahead of 2014. Worldwide, Volvo sold more than 500,000 vehicles for the first time ever, much to the satisfaction of Geely, corporate parent to the Swedish automaker. Officially, total sales were up 8% to 503,127 cars.
Encouraged by its success, Volvo will unveil another all new car, the stylish S90 sedan, next week at the Detroit auto show. The S90 will share the plug-in hybrid powertrain found in the XC90. If will also be available with all wheel drive.
“Volvo is about to enter the second phase of its global transformation,” Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson told Bloomberg News. “Once completed, Volvo will have ceased being a minor automotive player and taken its position as a truly global premium car company.” Part of that plan includes constructing a factory in the US. It also has its sights set on challenging BMW for leadership in the luxury car market. It expects it upward sales trend to continue in 2016.
One new model for 2016 is a hunky, chunky S60 Cross Country sedan. The all wheel drive 4 door sits 2.5″ higher than the standard sedan and borrows its bulked up body cladding from the V60 Cross Country wagon. The car harks back to the original AMC Eagle of 40 years ago when all wheel drive was still a curiosity. Volvo hopes it will create a new niche market for the brand. The thinking is that some people want the elevated driving position of an SUV without the signature SUV hatchback styling. Its a handsome automobile and should retail for around $40,000 when it goes on sale this summer, says Car and Driver.
Volvo has one more trick up its sleeve. Last year, it built 750 S60 and V60 Polestar edition cars. Polestar is a performance tuning operation that has specialized in Volvos for 20 years. Think of it being to Volvo what AMG is to Mercedes or M Series cars are to BMW. All 750 Polestar special editions were snapped up by enthusiastic buyers. Volvo bought the Polestar operation and brought it in-house in 2015.
“It was my mistake. I limited it to just 750 cars.” admits Lex Kerssemakers, senior VP of product planning and vehicle line management. “I just didn’t want those cars sitting around in case it doesn’t work, because then, rather than a brand driver it becomes a burden to the dealer. But the cars sold out significantly faster [than we expected]. That’s why we decided to do another batch.”
Volvo is on a roll and shows no sign of slowing down.
Upate: This story originally stated the XC90 PHEV was available in America in 2015. That statement was incorrect. Thanks to Gas 2 reader Joe for pointing out our error.