The all-new Volvo XC40 that is set to be unveiled within the next two months – likely at the Shanghai motor show in China, as the car will be built there, sharing parent company Geely’s small car platform – and Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson reckons the new small SUV will be vital as part of the company’s growth plans.
Speaking with select media at the 2017 Geneva motor show, Samuelsson said that the XC40 will round out the brand’s SUV portfolio, as well as offering customers something they’ve never had before from the brand.
“This year with the XC40 – it really means that for the first time we will have three sizes of whole-model SUVs, that is, I think, maybe the most important thing for this company to talk about,” Samuelsson said.
“Already today, almost half of our cars [sold] are SUVs, and with three whole models it will be clearly above 50 per cent,” he said.
“And then, of course, profitability is very good with those cars. So it’s a very important way of growing the company.”
Samuelsson said that currently the brand’s sales charts are dominated by the XC60, which was revealed in its new-generation guise at the Geneva show. In fact, he said the new model comes on the back of a record year for XC60, with the final versions of the first-gen model still attracting big interest.
“Right now the top car is the XC60, then it’s the smallest, the V40, then it’s the XC90,” he said – so it seems clearly possible that the new-generation XC40 could also join the ranks in the top three sellers.
Samuelsson said that even in the typically wagon-loving area of Europe there are buyers who are being drawn to SUVs instead of their lower, often more practical cousins.
“The V90 is still a very popular car line, but also in Europe I think SUVs are also taking a share from the wagon,” he said.
“What we have seen in the US is happening in Europe as well. An SUV has basically the same functionality but you sit a big higher, feel safe, have good visibility – that’s what you hear from customers driving an SUV,” Samuelsson stated. “So it’s a natural taste if you want to have an estate or an SUV, and price wise there is no big difference either.”
Samuelsson also suggested that it wouldn’t only be the XC40 being built in China and exported elsewhere, but also the new-generation XC60 due to its predicted strong demand.
“We are doing that. Today’s S60 is built in China and shipped then to the US,” he said of building cars in China and exporting them to established markets.
“There will be also the XC60 – as we need more capacity for XC60, we have Ghent [Belgium] and we have Chengdu, so both of them have to serve the global demand. And they will be absolutely equal, and this car will be built in Chengdu,” he said.
“We need two factories for these high volumes – it’s about 30 per cent of our sales, in that car,” he said of the XC60.