Volvo Bringing Big SUV to Market
Volvo is making its move into the lucrative, but increasingly crowded, sport utility vehicle market. The Swedish automaker will unveil its big SUV, the XC90, at the Detroit auto show in January.The XC90 is the final product on the so-calledP2 platform that underpins Volvo's 60-, 70- and 80-series sedans and wagons.XC90 -- XC stands for Cross Country, 90 designates Volvo's largest models -- goes on sale in the fall of 2002. The vehicle can be specified with a choice of 5-cylinder and 6-cylinder gasoline engines. Both engines are turbocharged. Volvo is not revealing many details yet, but it is known that the XC90 will be bigger than the V70 wagon. That will make the XC90 considerablylarger than the Lexus RX 300, bigger than the BMW X5, and perhaps the size of the Acura MDX, according to industry experts.The XC90 will have three rows of forward-facing seats, accommodating seven people. In keeping with Volvo's safety-conscious image, the vehicle will have side-curtain air bags that provide head protection for people in all three rows. The XC90 also showcases a range of technologically advanced new solutions in the important area of roll-over protection, according to Volvo.Volvo says the problem of vehicle compatibility - where a SUV collides with a lower conventionally shaped passenger car - was another high-priority area throughout the development of the XC90. "Being first in the next generation of SUV's allows us to set new standards for safety and functionality in the segment," said Hans Wikman, project director. "We wanted the car to look masculine and confident, but not macho," explained Peter Horbury, vice president and chief designer. Production of the new car will start in 2002 at the Torslanda factory in Goteborg on Sweden's west coast, where Volvo Cars is concentrating the production of all its larger models. The North American market is expected to account for about 65 percent of total Volvo XC90 sales.SUV sales -- including sport-utility wagons -- are the only vehicle category enjoying better sales this year than last. About Volvo Cars of North America, LLCVolvo Cars of North America, LLC (VCNA), is an affiliate of Ford Motor Company's Premier Automotive Group based in Irvine, Calif. VCNA is a subsidiary of the Volvo Car Corp. of Goteborg, Sweden, which will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2002. VCNA provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to Volvo automobile retailers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.