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Future models - Volvo - V90 - 4WD wagon

Volvo to head off the beaten track

Trump card: Volvo Car Australia managing director Richard Snijders says the imminent V90 off-roader will grow its market share appreciably.

Volvo's Adventure Concept Car will spawn a production version next year

1 Aug 2001

AUSTRALIANS will get their first taste of Volvo's most serious foray into all-wheel drive vehicles when the Adventure Concept Car (ACC) is shown at the Sydney Motor Show in October.

The production version - likely to be called V90 - should be on sale here by the end of 2002.

The V90 is one example of an increasing Volvo commitment to all-wheel drive, with the S60 AWD being seriously considered for Australian sale in 2002, the high-performance S60 T5R due to be revealed in 2003 and the next generation S80 luxury sedan a good chance to offer all-wheel drive as well when it debuts around 2005.

But the V90 will be the first cab off the rank, with Volvo Car Australia saying it as an important plank in its plans to grow to 7000 sales here by 2005. It is aiming for 4000 sales in 2001.

The ACC will be a good guide for potential V90 buyers, as styling is not expected to change fundamentally from the concept first unveiled at Detroit last January.

Powerplants expected to be offered with the V90 include both normally aspirated and twin-turbo 2.9-litre units already seen in the S80, and a turbo 5-cylinder 2.4 currently in widespread use in the Volvo range.

Diesel and bi-fuel versions are also expected to be offered, although how many engine variants will come here are unclear.

The V90 is about the same size as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML range, although it is tipped to offer a clever third row seating system which folds into the floor.

The V90's 4WD system - like the X5 and ML - is expected to be suitable for only light-duty work.

VCA is currently pondering the S60 AWD, which will have its first public showing at Frankfurt in September.

Like previous AWD models from Volvo, the all-wheel drive system is completely independent of the driver, with power distributed automatically between the front and rear wheels to guarantee the best possible grip on every road surface.

The electronically-controlled AWD system has been developed in collaboration with one of the pioneers in this field - the Swedish company Haldex.

"I think it (the S60 AWD) came for us at the wrong time because we were trying to slim and to simplify our lineup and to add an all-wheel drive would go against our desire to simplify the range," Mr Snijders admitted.

"The problem is there is a definitely an opportunity for all-wheel drive in Australia and I think the rear-wheel drive connotations are still pretty strong, and I think we might replace the S60 2.4T low-pressure turbo altogether with an all-wheel drive version." The fire-breathing 225 kW S60, which is also all-wheel drive, is expected to be unveiled in 2003 and go on sale here at the latest in 2004.

Mr Snijders also said there was a good chance the next generation S80 [break] would offer an all-wheel drive variant.

"We are a predominantly front-wheel drive company," he said. "But we will have some all-wheel drive elements in there. In a market like Australia that helps because of the traditional ties with rear-wheel drive." Mr Snijders confirmed Volvo would launch one new product every year for the next five years beginning with the V90. Next in line would be the S40 and V40 and its derivatives - tipped to include a coupe and convertible - and then the next-generation S80.

And furthermore... Volvo's move to pare its model range from 42 to 23 variants this year will continue in the future, Mr Snijders said: "It just makes a lot of sense to dealers but a lot more to customers." Volvo is introducing two new processes as it strives to improve its customer satisfaction rating. New Car Sales and Delivery (NCSD) and Volvo Repair Maintenance (VRM).

These web-based systems allow VCA to obtain fast feedback on customer satisfaction.

Mr Snijders confirmed there would be no over-arching manager of the three Premier Auto Group brands in Australia - Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover - once they move in together in Sydney in the first quarter of 2002.

He also confirmed there was no plan to develop PAG supersites here, although he did not rule it out in some major rural markets.

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