Volvo 'taken aback' by plug-in XC90 orders
19 June 2015
Volvo has been surprised by the strength of demand for the plug-in version of its new XC90, with the T8 Twin Drive model accounting for up to 20% of advanced orders.
Volvo recently confirmed the T8 would come with a 49g/km emissions figure, rather than the 59g/km provisionally announced, giving the car a four-band company car BIK boost for the next few years, and the company expects further growth in the hybrid as a result.
"We've got 1500 sold orders in the UK and we've been quite taken aback by the strength of our orders of the T8 plug-in hybrid," said Volvo UK managing director Nick Connor. "We thought it would be 3-5%, but we're now at 20%, and that was before we announced it would be sub-50g/km, so we would expect that 20% to rise further because it's such a strong story for business owners."
The firm is also considering a front-wheel drive version of the new XC90, to bring the diesel version below 130g/km.
"Front-wheel drive is developed and it's almost certain we'll do it at some point," said Connor. "We didn't with the old car and we were sceptical about a front-wheel drive XC60, but that has sold very well." There are no indications on timescales yet, and the car isn't thought to be imminent.
Volvo has confirmed it will be launching two plug-in hybrids per year between now and 2020, with every new car it launches being developed to take the petrol-electric technology.
"We see the future in plug-in hybrid and petrol, not diesel," said Connor. "We think there will be an increasing shift to petrol in Europe, so all our PIH models will be petrol."
He predicted an increasing focus on older diesels in particular, and that carmakers needed to ensure they lobby successful for legislation to be brought in without damaging the industry.
Volvo's UK boss also admitted manufacturers across the board have pushed diesel on to customers, even when it's not the most sensible option.
"As manufacturers, our dealers have been guilty of saying everyone should buy a diesel because they prefer diesel part-exchanges back after three years, when in some cases petrol would be better," he said. "It's about educating ourselves and the dealers to see what would be right for the customer."