Volvo is launching the V90 large premium station wagon into a small segment that’s been pushed aside by crossovers and SUVs.
But Volvo’s station wagon heritage may renew interest in the U.S., according to company executives and an analyst.
Volvo released photos and details on the V90 in Stockholm today ahead of the vehicle's public debut at the Geneva auto show on March 1.
U.S. pricing for the V90 will be announced later, as will details on when orders and deliveries will start. The wagon also will be sold Japan but not in China, Volvo said.
The V90 will replace the V70, while a derivative of the V90 will succeed the XC70, Volvo said.
The Volvo V90 will compete with a small group of competitors in the United States that include the BMW 5 series and Mercedes-Benz E class station wagons as well as the lower-priced Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen and Golf SportWagen. Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelly Blue Book, says the Subaru Outback would also be a competitor.
“The station wagon outlook in the U.S. looks bleak,” he said. “Instead of buying station wagons, most people are opting for crossovers, which are taller and have all-wheel drive.”
But “it is a less of a risk for Volvo than for any other brand,” because of its station wagon heritage, Nerad said.
Volvo stopped importing the V70 station wagon at the end of the 2010 model year and the V50 in 2012 because of slow sales. After a three-year hiatus, Volvo brought the V60 compact wagon to the U.S. market in January 2015 because of heavy lobbying by U.S. dealers and the U.S. sales arm.
Volvo says the V90 shows its continued commitment to station wagons -- known as “estates” in Europe -- where the automaker has competed for more than 60 years.
“We have a very strong position in the estate segment,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement today. “In many people’s minds we are known as the definitive estate brand. While the Volvo brand today stands for more than estates, we are proud to carry forward this rich heritage with the V90.”
The V90 is part of Volvo’s lineup revamp that started with the XC90 luxury crossover last year followed by the S90 sedan, which had its public debut at last month’s Detroit auto show. The S90 goes into production in the spring.
The three models will use Volvo’s new SPA modular architecture and will roll off the line at the automaker’s main plant in Torslanda, near Gothenburg. Each vehicle will offer a plug-in hybrid variant as Volvo aims to extend the alternative powertrain across its entire lineup.
The V90’s plug-in hybrid will deliver about 410 hp and a pure electric range of roughly about 30 miles, Volvo r&d boss Peter Mertens said in the statement.
The V90 will include key features found in the S90, such as Volvo’s City Safety collision avoidance system that has been upgraded to offer a world-first function: large-animal detection. The feature can recognize an elk or moose, day or night, and provide brake support to avoid a crash. The wagon also will offer semiautonomous driving technology that gives steering assistance to keep the car in its lane at speeds up to 130 kph (81 mph).
Volvo, which China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group bought from Ford in 2010 for $1.8 billion, has ambitious growth plans. It sold a record 503,127 vehicles in 2015 and wants to achieve a global volume of 800,000 by 2020.
Volvo will likely break the 100,000 U.S. sales mark next year. In 2015, Volvo sales rose 24 percent to 70,047 units. U.S. sales peaked at 139,067 in 2004.
Douglas Bolduc of Automotive News Europe contributed to this report.