Volvo Intends to Stay, Thrive in the US

At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Routinely, automotive journalists and analysts look at the industry’s smaller players and posit whether these manufacturers will stay around. In recent years Daihatsu, Isuzu, Suzuki and Saab have exited, leaving people guessing whether Mitsubishi, Mazda or Volvo might join them.

Volvo, however, will have none of that. They’ve been saying that they are staying and at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday they backed up those words with more details.

Reviving its US Presence

Specifically, Volvo says that it intends to revive its US sales and it will do so by renewing its entire product range within the next five years. Volvo has also promised to place a new focus on its dealer network, its management team and spend more money on marketing. Notably, the Swedish automaker plans to update its engine line and expand its safety technologies.

Volvo XC90.
The all-new Volvo XC90.
Volvo also acknowledged that it is currently in the midst of a ten-year drop in US sales. For 2014, Volvo expects to sell 60,000 units stateside. but even before its product line expansion is finished the company expects to sell approximately 100,000 cars annually in the United States. Right now, Volvo is reporting strong sales in Western Europe as well as in China.

“Volvo is in the US to stay. Not only will we stay, we will prosper,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “We have a plan and we are implementing it. We sold over 100,000 cars a year in the US in the past. Our initial aim is to get back to that level and in the longer term surpass it.”

Five Volvo Elements

Volvo also identified five elements that are key to its US revival plans and they are:

1. A full renewal of Volvo’s product range is underway and will be completed within five years. The renewal has begun with the all-new XC90 and V60 Cross Country.

2. Brand strengthening will take place as the company plans to double its marketing budget in the next year.

3. Volvo says it will develop its dealer network in a bid to ensure that it has the infrastructure in place to support both brand development and new products.

4. The company plans to protect buyers’ residual values and maintain Volvo’s premium status in the process.

5. Volvo intends to improve its service operations by both ensuring that the dealer network is profitable and by delivering service quality that owners expect.

(See Also —- Isuzu, Toyota Part Ways…Sort Of)

Volvo XC60 Cross Country

The company says that it will meet its goals through its new management team and with new technologies, including Drive-E, representing its latest engine line. Volvo will also continue to lead in safety and connectivity.

The Volvo XC60 Cross Country debuts to American and Canadian customers first. This tall wagon is powered by a 250-horsepower five-cylinder engine and has a ground clearance 2.6 inches higher than the standard V60. Volvo says that the Cross Country is for people that demand all-weather capability, a sporty drive and the latest safety features. Indeed, the Cross Country comes with standard hill descent control, what maintains the vehicle’s speed when driving down steep inclines.

All-new Volvo XC90

Where the Volvo XC60 Cross Country builds on an existing model, the Volvo XC90 is all new. It is also the first model to reflect Volvo’s updated fascia with a more prominent iron mark and T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lights. This model comes with a larger hood, more powerful shoulders and distinctive beltline characteristics. Its rear fascia is marked by tattoo-like rear lights.

The top-of-the-range XC90 Twin Engine is outfitted with a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine. It also has an electric motor, combining for nearly 400 horsepower. Drivers can switch to electric-only mode and drive for approximately 26 miles for pure electric drive. Also available is a T6 engine with a supercharger and a turbocharger, making 320 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the model line.

Winning the Battle

Volvo certainly has a battle on its hands in a bid to grow its presence in the ultra-competitive US market. It just might take Thor bringing his hammer down to give this premium, niche manufacturer a real fighting chance.

Photo courtesy of Volvo North America.

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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