Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Volvo XC90 in Spain, Volvo Australia’s marketing and communications director, Oliver Peagam, reaffirmed the Swedish brand's view that it now has a product on par with its traditionally more expensive rivals.
“I think every manufacturer is fully aware of what the competitor set is doing and prices accordingly” Peagam said. “But you’ve got to look into spec by spec value and what comes standard… I think we are pretty competitive [with the XC90].”
The new seven-seater SUV, which is set to launch locally in August, is priced from $89,950. Around $20,000 more than the starting price of the now 12-year-old previous generation.
The new SUV will compete directly against a broad range of new product, including the upcoming Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE (ML replacement) as well as the existing BMW X5 that offers 5+2 seating.
Volvo believes its product offering is more than good enough to take the fight to its European rivals, helped along with the combination of an all-new car as well as new engines.
“The SPA platform, new Drive-E engines, which are class leading, the level of connectivity, the level of fit and finish, the practicality of it… I think we are a genuine competitor now, being cross shopped [with the Germans] legitimately”
In its last full year of sale, the previous generation Volvo XC90 sold 725 units in Australia, down from its record high of around 2,000 units in 2007. Volvo Australia expects similarly high sales figures with the new car.
“In my view that would be an aim, but anything beyond that would be fantastic as well.”
The importance of the new XC90 goes beyond just becoming the best selling Volvo, it signals the relaunch of the brand.
“It starts the ball rolling for all the new product onslaught that’s coming the next few years. So in that respect it’s very important. And that segment is still pretty strong still, people know the XC90, if you ask Joe Public in the street to name a Volvo the first model would be XC90.”
Volvo will initially offer the XC90 in D5 and T6 variants, both powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, one a turbocharged diesel and the other a turbocharged and supercharged petrol. Later in the year the Scandinavian brand will launch the hybrid T8 model.
Based on historical sales data, the diesel model should prove the most popular but considering the efficiency of the new petrol, the T6’s better dynamics and lower running costs may be enough to persuade more buyers.
“Historically the D5 has been the main seller, but with new technology comes new improvement in efficiency, there’s no reason why the T6 can’t do significant numbers”
Peagam hinted that the success of the XC90 against its German rivals would pave the way for Volvo’s upcoming models to be similarly priced and specified against their rivals.
“It comes down to looking around the core competitor sets locally and what they are doing and what our product offering is, so there’s a goal to be up there competing with the Germans, but that’s depending on how the new product comes through and what we chose to put on it locally.”