One model has defined Volvo’s rebirth, but its backer deserves some of the credit as well.
It’s customary for a new car line to hit its sales-stride within the second full year of production, before plateauing and gradually ebbing downwards. This fall is normally arrested by a mid-term facelift, before once again, the graph pitches inexorably Southwards as the model is run out and ultimately replaced. While I wouldn’t necessarily build a thesis (of either variety) around this assertion, this tends to be the run of things, normally taking place over a six-to eight year product cycle.
Volvo’s XC60 was first shown in thinly veiled concept form a decade ago at the NAIAS before being officially announced the following year. Volvo’s first mid sized SUV, it came on the heels of the larger XC90 model, which proved to be a huge hit with buyers, particularly in the US market. Based on a modified version of the Ford EUCD platform that underpinned so many Ford-sanctioned PAG cars (not forgetting the Mondeo), the XC60 was allegedly developed with some 4×4 assistance from Land Rover, whose Freelander 2 shared some structural componentry.
From 2009, once production was up to speed, the Volvo midliner cleaved to stereotype, with sales growing year on year. However, there was no mid-life dip for the Swedish high-rider. Sales simply continued rising inexorably. Even last year, when news of its impending replacement was all over the motoring press, far from fading, the XC60 posted a new global sales record with over 160,000 models sold.
The second-generation XC60, built on Volvo’s own modular platform was officially launched in Geneva this March to positive reviews and the new model shows every sign of outselling its predecessor once deliveries begin in earnest. But here’s the curious thing. Even on run-out, the outgoing car continued selling strongly and for the current year to June, XC60 sales across Europe alone are up 34% on 2016. It’s worth pointing out here that this figure only includes a small quantity of the new model, production of which is still getting up to speed.
This is a remarkable performance for any car. Because even allowing for the fact that it competes in one of the highest ranking sectors from a sales perspective, it’s also among the most competitive. In fact, the Volvo was until recently perhaps the oldest offering in its segment, yet amongst the best performing. That’s a proposition Volvo’s rivals would kill for.
Frankly, if you want to understand the Swedish brand’s post-PAG ascent, look no further, because Volvo’s rebirth has been largely built on the XC60’s broad shoulders. However, it’s worth remembering that Geely, (Volvo’s current owners) did not bankroll this model programme. Ford did. I’m not usually in the habit of saying this, but in this case at least, I really do believe Ford hasn’t received the credit it deserves.