STOCKHOLM -- Volvo's U.S. dealerships will receive about a third of the 80,000 XC90 units built annually when the brand's redesigned flagship crossover is running at full capacity.
Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the 2016 XC90 will go on sale in the United States in April and deliveries to U.S. dealers have been "prioritized." Production at Volvo's plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, begins in January.
"It is a very important car for the U.S. because that is the market for a big seven-seater," said Samuelsson at the press introduction here last week.
The new midsize crossover replaces a 12-year-old vehicle and underscores Volvo's aim to move upscale in status and pricing, company executives said. It offers new styling, room for seven, new safety technologies, more fuel-efficient engines and a more premium interior, all packaged on a new flexible platform.
The XC90 is the first vehicle developed by Volvo since its sale to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2010.
Samuelsson expects it to help Volvo increase sales in the United States to 100,000 units -- a level the brand has not reached since 2007. Last year, Volvo sold 61,233 vehicles in the country, and its U.S. sales through July declined 11 percent to 34,224.
U.S. sales of the XC90 -- one of the oldest models in the segment -- have plummeted as the vehicle has aged. In the United States, Volvo sold 3,031 XC90s through July and 6,845 in 2013. U.S. sales peaked in 2004 at 39,183 vehicles, when there were fewer players in the segment.
The redesigned version will debut in the United States with an all-wheel-drive model priced at $49,825, including shipping. It will be powered by Volvo's new 316-hp Drive-E turbo and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Features include navigation, 19-inch wheels, a power laminated panoramic sunroof and advanced connectivity.
The 2014 XC90 starts at $40,615 with shipping. A front-wheel-drive version of the redesigned model will be launched later, but Volvo executives did not give a timetable.
The XC90 is the first vehicle to use Volvo's scalable product architecture that will underpin all models except a new generation of subcompacts being developed with Geely. The architecture allows more interior space and the "comfort of a much smaller and lower car," said Peter Mertens, Volvo's product development head.
Mertens said the new XC90 is 275 pounds lighter than its predecessor and 440 pounds lighter than most of its competitors, a list that includes the Acura MDX and RDX, Lincoln MKX, BMW X3 and X5, and Cadillac SRX.
Mertens said about 40 percent of the XC90's body and components are made with boron steel because it is lighter and stronger than conventional steel.