The Swedish automaker, which now belongs to local automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, is keen on securing a big piece of the booming Chinese luxury market.
Heralded by the introduction of the new XC90 SUV, which has its daylight running lights shaped like Thor’s hammer, Volvo aims to move from the safe-but-dull brand image to a safe, glittery, feature-rich, designer-signed future.
With such amenities like a humidity-controlled cigar case or a Swedish crystal switch gear, Volvo’s upcoming cars need to reconcile an 87-year long strategy that emphasizes Scandinavian understatement, greenness and safety with the designer glitz and luxury features that would persuade affluent Chinese buyers or US customers to jump from the German premium trio bandwagon.
“Prices will be the same level as competitors like the Germans,” says Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson. “Customers should not expect to buy them cheaper than an Audi.”
The new XC90 comes loaded with safety features, such as anti-collision detectors that even brake the car in dangerous turns, but – according to the few people who already saw the car – is also emphasizing design above all. The Chinese owner even influenced the interior of the four-seater variant, aimed at Asian executives with chauffeurs, while the normal version has seven seats.