BARCELONA, Spain — Volvo is packing its redesigned XC60 with high-tech features and options as it tries to boost its market share in a hot segment: midsize premium crossovers.
To lift its 3.9 percent U.S. share in the segment in 2017 to 7 percent, Volvo must change the XC60 enough to attract new buyers while not alienating its current customer base. Volvo hopes the sales mix for the revamped crossover will be 60 percent conquests.
"It's so crucial that we deliver more than what people expect," Karl-Johan Ekman, Volvo's vice president of vehicle line management for the 60 series, said in an interview during a press event here. "We have to have the guts to sell that."
To start, he said, Volvo expects strong demand for the 2018 XC60's optional air suspension, which lets the driver raise the vehicle about 2 inches for off-roading, marking the first time Volvo has offered that capability in a midsize vehicle.
Volvo added three active safety features: steering assist; blind-spot monitoring, which includes a steering assist function to reduce the risk of collisions; and oncoming lane mitigation. The XC60 also has Volvo's semiautonomous Pilot Assist technology, which the company said acts as a driver support system rather than a driver replacement, and requires hands on the wheel at all times. The XC60 also has a more intuitive iPad-like infotainment interface, paring the number of buttons and knobs and operating primarily on the 9-inch touch screen in the center console.
The crossover is built on Volvo's new Scalable Product Architecture platform, which also underpins the XC90 crossover, S90 sedan and the V90 and V90 Cross Country wagons. This is the XC60's first major redesign since it was introduced in 2008. XC60 production began in April and the crossover is to arrive in U.S. dealerships in August.
The XC60 accounts for nearly one-third of the brand's worldwide sales. Though U.S. sales dropped 22 percent in 2016 to 20,452 vehicles, global sales rose by about 1 percent to 161,092.
Volvo is offering a variety of XC60 trims and packages to attract new buyers. The three trims are the base Momentum, R-Design — or sport — and the luxury Inscription. Customers may also choose among six packages to add to any trim level. Powertrain options include the T5, T6 and the hybrid T8 four-cylinder engines.
"You have to be aggressive and you have to offer what you think the customer would like to have," Ekman said.
Though smaller than the XC90, the XC60 interior doesn't feel compact, in large part because of generous front legroom and a panoramic sunroof.
Ekman said in the past, Volvo has been blind to the desire for a more complex vehicle. Buoyed by growing sales, the brand has been encouraged to be more creative with its offerings, he said.
"We underestimated the appetite of customers to be able to order a number of features," Ekman said. "We maybe had too low confidence. But now we know, if you do things right, sales come."