With the V60 diesel-electric plug-in hybrid wagon now off the local radar due to production constraints, Volvo Cars Australia will instead turn to a petrol-electric version of its next-generation XC90 SUV to become its first PHEV offering here, ideally before the end of 2015.
Speaking with media last week, Volvo Cars Australia managing director Matt Braid said the Swedish company’s local arm would look to roll out a sequence of premium-priced PHEVs as they become available here, with the all-new MY15 XC90 the starting point.
The diesel-electric V60 PHEV — which has a pure electric range of 50km and a total range of 900km — was to have been Volvo’s first step into the brave new world of electrification in Australia, but strong demand from EV-friendly nations such as Holland, Belgium and Italy put this market to the back of the queue.
But Volvo’s Australian division will soldier on with its plan to bring its greenest vehicles Down Under.
Developing a presence in the fledgling PHEV market in Australia would give Volvo “another string to its bow” as it seeks to reinforce its high-tech, premium credentials against its mostly German rivals, according to Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid.
“Plug-in hybrid technology is definitely coming to this market very soon,” he said.
“I think there’s opportunity to do it differently as well, we’re looking forward to the technology launching, it will give us another string to our bow, but also gives us another way that we can present ourselves that may be different to the next guy."
The XC90 is the first production Volvo to sit on the company’s Scalable Platform Architecture that will underpin its range of medium and large vehicles over the coming years. As with similar modular setups from brands such as Volkswagen, Volvo’s architecture is specially made to accommodate battery cells.
As such, the new XC90 is expected to launch — in Europe at least — with a PHEV option almost as soon as it premieres at the Paris motor show this October.
The (all four-cylinder) internal combustion versions of the long-awaited new XC90 will hit Australian showrooms a touch over six months later in May 2015, at a higher price point and with more equipment than the current model, which is expected to push it closer to the likes of BMW’s X5.
The plug-in version will not arrive right away, but should be here by the end of 2015, says Braid, adding that Volvo will not do what Mitsubishi has done with its Outlander PHEV: pricing it around par with its diesel sibling.
“I think you’ll definitely see our PHEV be a premium, it won’t be priced in line with the other cars, but exactly what that entails we’re still looking into,” he said.
“The (EV and PHEV) market’s still very green in Australia, pardon the pun, but it’s early days, so as long as we can present a good offering and then see what that segment does, then I think we can then put a line in the sand and say that’s where we should be."
Speaking with media last week, Braid said the next XC90 would command a premium over the current version, which tops out at a list price of $75,990. With the PHEV certain to attract a further premium, expect it to nudge $100,000.