A bold new era for Volvo

VOLVO has just released full photos of its new XC90, the first new Volvo model since Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely bought the company from Ford in 2010.

The first XC90 was launched in 2002, but the new 2015 model shows a bold new styling direction that will form the basis of all future Volvo models.

It has a longer hood, a new logo and sharpened lines. There is a new taillight design and wheel sizes up to 22 inches. It's designed as a three-row SUV which can hold seven passengers. The super-bright LED headlamps are being referred to as "Thor's Hammer" lights.

"This is one of the most important days in our history. We are not just launching a car, but relaunching our brand. This marks a new era for our company," said Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of the Volvo Car Group.

"The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years," he added.

Three engines will be offered, starting with a 190bhp four-cylinder diesel with front wheel drive, then the D5 225bhp diesel with all-wheel drive. A petrol plug-in hybrid version will also feature in the line-up. All models will be fitted with Volvo’s eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.

The interior has also been completely revamped with a new tablet-like touchscreen as the centerpiece, replacing a multitude of buttons and dials with a clean, clutter-free dash.

There are loads of wood and leather throughout the cabin with handcrafted highlights such as the crystal-glass gear level and diamond cut designs for the starter button and volume controls.

The car is built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which will underpin future large cars from the firm, ranging from the next generation S60 saloon through to the larger XC models and potentially a new coupé.

It will face off against rival premium SUVs like the BMW X5m, Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes M-Class.

Volvo will offer its City Safety feature in the XC90, which automatically brakes to prevent or mitigate low-speed collisions. A new safety feature will automatically brake if the driver misjudges the speed of an oncoming car and attempts to turn in front of it.

Volvo says the new model will be launched in the Philippines during the second quarter of 2015. The company is being tight-lipped about the price, but said in a statement "the new XC90 will have a price that will befit its quality and premium specifications." This probably translates as rather expensive!

Zhejiang Geely, led by its billionaire founder Li Shufu, is counting on growing Volvo sales in China, as well as a sharing of technical, marketing and design expertise that it can use to strengthen its Geely brand of vehicles.

Li, a self-made engineering graduate with a taste for poetry, founded Geely in 1986 as a maker of refrigerators. The company moved on to motorcycles and finally to cars.

By 2020 Volvo executives hope to be selling 800,000 Volvos worldwide on an annual basis by 2020, roughly four times what’s selling now.

I've long been a Volvo fan - I had a 740 in Hong Kong in the 1980s - and was saddened when Ford decided to ditch the brand following the 2008 financial crisis. Thankfully, Zhejiang Geely bought the company in 2010 and has since invested some serious money in its future.

With the XC90, Volvo is showcasing its future and its clear intention to remain a key player in the highly competitive world of luxury cars.


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