At least three main reasons make this launch exceptional. Many things happened during the twelve years life cycle of that first-generation XC90.
First, this all-new XC90 should prove that Volvo is still as Swedish as it has always been, according to what the brand calls, the Volvo-by-Volvo strategy.
Even if the Volvo Car Group was bought by the Chinese Geely group in 2010 for US$1.8 billion, from another non-Swedish group, American Ford Motor Company, which bought it, eleven years earlier for US$6 billion, both previous and current owners respected Volvo's core identity.
By the way, the technical commonalities with the Ford platforms didn't harm Volvo's image, just like the VW platforms do not affect the German group's Audi image. Of course, things are not always that evident, as proved by the Ford Mondeo-based Jaguar X-Type, which didn't meet the same fortune at the time (yet, one also has to remember Ford's generous investments in the larger Jaguar aluminium platform).
Anyway, Volvo remains Swedish, just like Jaguar doesn't seem to be perceived less British at all under its Indian Tata Motors ownership (since 2008).
Second, the new XC90 is also the fruit of four years of preparation, within a wider US$11 billion investment program, showing future design direction of the brand. From this angle, the new XC90 bares more than the usual meaning of a "flagship model". It indicates the face of future Volvo models which we be following behind... and their "hearts".
This "hearts" leads us to the third point. The "future direction" is not a design-limited one. The US$11 billion investment program is built around what Volvo called the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), allowing a "wide range of cars, powertrains, electrical systems and (safety) technologies – all of differing complexity – to be fitted on the same architecture."
While Volvo has been dreaming for several years to lift its global sales to 600,000 on the way to 800,000 annual units, from their current levels of 400,000s (427,840 last year, 421,951 in 2012), it looks today in a far better position to achieve this ambition through the combination of both, its new Scalable Product Architecture and the easier access to the Chinese market, all without losing anything of its Swedish soul. After all, why would a Chinese customer buy a Volvo if it is not a Swedish, European car?
By the way, Volvo Car Group global retail sales grew from 269,765 units in the first eight months of 2013, to 294,709 units (+9.2%) for the same period of this year. The biggest growth was in China, from 37,661 to 51,568 units (+36.9%), representing 17.5% of Volvo Cars total sales (13.96% in Jan-Aug. 2013).
So, when Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group said: “We are not just launching a car, but re-launching our brand. This day marks a new era for our company. The XC90 paves the way for a portfolio of exciting new cars to come in the following years”, he was not just reading another marketing launch speech.
It is indeed a great moment in the history of Volvo Car Group.