And the Swedish automaker just might be right.
Volvo just revealed its expectations for its new S90 sedan, predicting that it will sell 15,000 units in the US per year and capture 5% of the mid-size import sedan market. Those expectations were relayed to Automotive News (AN) by Anders Robertson, product manager for the 90 family of vehicles for Volvo USA. Robertson said he expected most buyers to be conquests before rattling off the sedan's competitors: the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, Infiniti Q70 and Lexus GS. Do you notice something interesting about that list?
The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class were left off, with Volvo's senior vice president of research and development, Peter Mertens, telling AN that those cars will be purposefully avoided as the segment they compete in is too small. That's a smart move if Volvo wants to sell units en masse but we also think the automaker would have a hard time trotting out a sedan packing a four-cylinder to compete with cars that both offer V12s. The Swedish four-door is also not priced to compete with full-size German offerings as it starts at $47,945 (four-cylinder engine, 250 hp) for a base model with FWD and checks in at $57,245 (four-cylinder engine, 316 hp) for an AWD model.
While FWD may be seen as a negative Mertens believes it won't hinder the car's ability to compete in its class. Of course the S90's selling point won't be speed or performance. (That is until Polestar gets to tinker with it.) Rather it'll be a mix of good looks, inside and out ,and technology, both for safety and self-driving. We've gotten a chance to see the S90 up close and it looks damn good. But it'll be interesting to see if FWD and a four-cylinder engine hold it back somewhat. Downsizing is happening across the industry, but people still expect certain things from certain classes, especially when it comes to engine sizes.