(Volvo's Australian arm has since confirmed this report with CarAdvice. See our update at the bottom of this article.)
The fault is understood to centre on an interior trim panel that can interfere with the curtain airbag where it extends into the third row.
According to American website Autoblog, Volvo Cars North America product safety and compliance manager Jason Guidi has confirmed the potential fault and detailed the company’s intended response.
"Volvo has identified that the Inflatable Curtain (IC) may not inflate as intended for third-row passengers. In the event of a crash, the interior panel on the D-pillar(s) may obstruct the IC from inflating fully. If this would occur, the third row passengers may have less protection from the IC," Guidi reportedly confirmed in a letter to dealers in the US and Canada.
He adds that XC90 vehicles not already delivered to customers “must be quarantined” until a redesigned panel can be installed.
The company adds that it will address vehicles already with customers “when additional information is available”. Despite concerns that the third row may not be adequately protected in the event of a collision, Guidi’s letter reportedly confirms that customer vehicles may be safely driven in the meantime.
CarAdvice has contacted Volvo Car Australia and will update this article as local details are confirmed.
With the new XC90 only this week making its Australian media debut, there is unlikely to be a significant number of vehicles in customer possession.
Speaking with CarAdvice this week, Volvo Car Australia's director of public relations and corporate communications, Greg Bosnich, confirmed "a minor airbag related issue".
"We can confirm that we are addressing an issue," Mr Bosnish said. "It has been discovered that an interior panel may prevent the curtain airbag in the third row from deploying. The issue is not related to the airbag itself, and certainly no other Volvo models."
"The new XC90 is only just hitting showrooms [in Australia] now, and there's been no reported issues. We'll of course make sure that the issue is addressed at dealers as soon as they can get to them," he said.