The head of Volvo Australia has flagged the need for a small SUV in its line up, saying that a vehicle a size smaller than the popular XC60 is “definitely” on his wishlist.
Speaking with TMR at the local launch of the V40 range, Volvo Car Australia Managing Director Matt Braid said that although the current product range is good, the brand’s strong SUV sales showed that adding a more affordable option in that segment would make sense.
“We’re very happy with the product portfolio,” Braid told TMR. “Our product has demonstrated that it’s very competitive now in almost every segment that it competes in.
“XC90 is getting old, but it’s still selling incredibly well. We sold six less in 2012 than we did in 2011.
“It even outsold [Audi] Q7... so while we’d like it to be new, it’s not hampering our sales at the moment.
Last year, Volvo sold 1342 XC90s, accounting for 7.7 percent of sales in the large SUV segment over $70,000.
Overall sales remain healthy however, particularly considering the XC90’s age - this year marks ten years since it went on sale here.
The XC60 has had better fortunes, and has long been the top-selling model for Volvo Australia. Last year the company sold 2179 XC60s, claiming 20.1 percent of its segment.
The XC60 will get an extensive facelift at the end of this year, while the local debut for the all-new XC90 won’t happen until around six months after the car goes on sale in Europe, most likely in the latter half of 2014
However, although Mr Braid said there was substantial sales potential for a small Volvo SUV - an XC40 model between the V40 CC and the XC60 - there were currently no confirmed plans to bring one to market
Instead, the Swedish automaker will have to make do with the V40 Cross Country, an AWD crossover variant of the just-launched V40 hatch.
Last year, BMW and Audi sold around 1400 X1s and Q3s each, and Braid forecast that demand for entry-level prestige crossovers and SUVs is only going to increase.
However, Braid added that the V40 Cross Country would only really compete with the X1, which starts at $46,900 for the 2WD X1 sDrive20i.
“If you look at the players in that segment, it’s a bit niche,” he said.
“There’s quite a few models that aren’t really truly aligned, but X1 is pretty much the closest [to V40 Cross Counrty]. X1’s marketed as an SUV, but really it’s more of a crossover wagon.
“Q3 is more of a mini-SUV, so we think X1 is more what we’re targeting.
“We’re also looking at the Mini [Countryman] as a competitor, although that is very much a niche offering.”
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