Volvo unveils its first new car under Chinese parent Geely. It will sport luxury features and designer glitz not normally associated with the brand. As Joanna Partridge reports the change is designed to catch the eye of the booming Chinese market.
Dependable, not desirable. The reputation Sweden's Volvo wants to shake with the XC90 SUV. The first new model it's launched since it was bought by Chinese firm Geely in 2010. Aimed at the booming Chinese market, the 7-seater combines Scandinavian design with some new luxury touches. Enough to impress some car journalists. SOUNDBITE: Jacques Wallner, Dagens Nyheter newspaper, saying (English): "When it comes to the exterior design, it's very modest. You can see it's a Volvo." SOUNDBITE: Hans Hedberg, Test Editor, Teknikens Varld car magazine, saying (English): "Right on size and safety, and also maybe branding and image, because middle-class is growing worldwide, and they want a smart, good-looking car." After 5 years and $11 billion of investment, it's a make-or-break model for Volvo and its owners. Geely has brought stability, says Volvo's CEO. SOUNDBITE: Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group, saying (English): "Very beneficial. Geely have also chosen a governance model based on a competent board, having the right people in management, with car experience, and otherwise leaving the company to be more standalone than we have been before. It's about making money not asking for money." The XC90 marks the move upmarket of its entire range. And an attempt to balance Scandinavian design and heritage with new technology. Paul Newton is from IHS. SOUNDBITE: Paul Newton, Auto analyst, IHS, saying (English): "They're trying to establish a vehicle that's going to appeal across a number of significant markets, the key one is China and the secondary one is the United States. But you've then also got to try to keep people in Europe happy as well." Volvo sales have been stuck at around 400,000 a year for decades. The goal is to double that. But that means taking on German rivals like BMW, Mercedes and Audi. SOUNDBITE: Paul Newton, Auto analyst, IHS, saying (English): "They don't have the dealership networks, they don't have the quite recent buyer experiences and client base to go with the new model. So from a timing aspect for Volvo, it's crucial that this vehicle does well in capturing clients from those German premium brands." Auto analysts expect the car to sell well. First Volvo will have to persuade motorists to part with around 100,000 euros for a car that many still see as a safe, family vehicle.