- Elegant design, quality feel, latest technology and low running costs will attract buyers to the new XC60
- Volvo seeing a move to petrol engines for its smaller models
- 49g/km T8 expected to make up a quarter of XC60 demand
The new Volvo XC60 will appeal to corporate buyers – like the rest of the range. Martyn Collins talks to Volvo UK managing director Jon Wakefield about his aspirations for the all-new mid-sized SUV.
- How is the new Volvo XC60 going to appeal to the fleet buyer?
“Well, it is more of the same in a way, it still has all of our virtues of all the cars we make. It is a practical car, that with the new design is more elegant, stylish and the quality feel is much stronger.
“So, I think you get a practical solution for fleet that’s elegant, but not too ostentatious and I think that’s important for that market. I think people are quite conscious of what they’re seen to be driving. Certainly XC60 has a high degree of engineering in the style and design, but it’s also not too flashy.
“This is a car for forward thinkers, who want the latest thing – the technology in this car is of intrinsic value to business people pushing ahead, because it’s quite clever and new and modern as well.”
- So, the new XC60 is perfect for a market segment that’s continuing to grow?
“Yes, I was just looking at the figures for the three premium SUV segments year to date, XC90, XC60 and what will be the XC40 – it’s 10 per cent of the UK market and it’s just a staggeringly appealing segment now.
“We’re now in a growing segment, with a second-generation car, whereas other manufacturers have only just entered. Thank goodness they have as it draws attraction to this segment. I think we’re very well placed with this car.”
- What do you think are the key standout points for fleet buyers of the new XC60 in its segment?
“Safety is the one of the core pillars of the brand. But for me, it’s just the quality of this car and the design and the simplicity and the technology. XC90 has now been in the marketplace for a couple of years and that technology is still fresh and new.
“You can see it in the XC60’s touchscreen, the presentation is cleaner, even more simple and intuitive to use.
“So it’s all of those things for me, it’s the quality and the fit and finish is just super.
“Again for the fleet buyer the 49g/km T8 is of huge interest frankly and that changes the way people think about funding their cars.”
- Do you have any idea of the breakdown of how diesel and petrol versions of the new XC60 are selling, considering the T8 hybrid version of the XC90 has done much better than you thought. Do you think the same could happen with XC60?
“Yes, I do because we’re seeing a very distinct shift in the marketplace now towards petrol that’s driven by a number of things. Whether it’s factually correct, there’s been a lot of coverage and perception about diesel. We see now, the smaller segments are shifting into petrol, because of that and again the T8 has a specific appeal in terms of its taxation.”
- Do you think the move to petrol models is a short-term change and that’s there’s still space for diesel?
“I actually don’t know, some of the perceptions of diesel are incorrect and talking to my London dealers, ironically it seems to be consumers in London that are still more pro-diesel as they’ve read the detail and understand more.
“So, when there’s a broader understanding of the relative pros and cons, of petrol versus diesel maybe it will even out. People are moving away from diesel because they’ve read about it in an article in a Sunday periodical and hear it in the pub – diesel is bad! There is more to this story than that!
“From our side we’ve got petrol, diesel and the move towards electrification. So, what the market does, we’ll see but we’re equipped to go with it effectively – we can combine those, obviously, with Volvo’s big electrification announcement, this car is ready to go electric.
“The SPA platform is built to combine an internal combustion engine and electrification from the outset. Currently it’s just our T8 hybrid, but we then could introduce a mild hybrid unit which regenerates via the engine. That’s a regenerative system within this chassis, then another development is full battery power.”
- What does the 2019 electrification date mean for the XC60 and the rest of the range?
“Everything we launch after 2019, will have an electric version. XC60 will now run for a lifecycle, so technically it will be after 2019 when we’ll see a full electric version – but we still have within the current set-up a hybrid and we’ll see the mild-hybridisation.
“Moving forward, from 2019 you’ll see these three range of options, covering all bases. It is down to the consumer, because they’ll come at different price points.
“The whole platform and engine strategy, that was started off at the turn of the decade, it was all very much geared towards allowing us this flexibility and simplicity. It’s straightforward because we’re dealing with one engine block and two platforms.
- The XC60 with T8 hybrid power, have you got any idea percentage-wise what it will do for sales?
“I reckon we could see up to a quarter of the volume through hybrid, within the next couple of years.”
- What do you reckon will be the key XC60 model for the fleet buyer?
“I think that this is a great car for the owners, due to the huge amount of performance and luxury, so I think we’ll see T8 featuring quite highly and we’ll see a lot of high-end Inscriptions with the Pro pack.
“We’re taking the corporate-focused ‘Pro’ packages across the range, it makes the cars more easily recognisable further down the line and straightforward for the residual value.”
- When the current XC90 came in, there was an uplift in pricing, over the previous-generation XC90 and it’s the same for this car although at a different level. Do you think you’ll see a lot of customers trading down to XC60?
“Possibly, but again all of those segments are growing and we’re growing our volumes within them.
“If people are moving around the segments, there are people coming into replace them. At the end of the day we’ve got a range so some people will move down and some people will move up.”