Volvo Adds a Plug and Battery to the XC90

Source: Volvo
Source: Volvo

Swedish automaker Volvo is ready to put some skin in the game on the still-infantile plug-in hybrid SUV market. New details are spilling regarding the company’s new XC90 T8, which will use Volvo’s twin-charged turbo powertrain to become one of the world’s cleanest and most powerful sport utility vehicles available. What makes the new XC90 so special is that it will not only be incredibly economical, but there is not much sacrifice to performance in order to achieve it.

“The XC90 T8 is a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one,” says Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “The Drive-E engines already offer highly competitive performance versus the competition. The T8 takes it further into a leading position.”

Not only will the new SUV be able to seat up to seven, but also get an impressive 59 MPGe in terms of fuel economy, and race from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 5.9 seconds, as drivers cruise along behind the strength of 400 horses. Of course, the SUV will also have a variety of different driving modes to fit anyone’s preference. Hybrid mode will be the default setting, while the XC90 will also have a range of 40 kilometers, or around 25 miles, in pure electric mode. In power mode, you get the best of both options. delivering the most amount of power in terms of torque.

The SUV first made waves during its appearance at the LA Auto Show last month, and but since then details have been scant. Of course, the biggest remaining detail many are waiting for is the pricing, which looks to be dialed in at around $70,000-$75,000, according to InsideEVs.

Source: Volvo
Source: Volvo

While we’ll have to wait a little bit until the new XC90 T8 actually hits the streets, it’s more than fair to take a look at what Volvo is going up against. The thing is, as Autoblog points out, there really isn’t a whole lot of competition out there, with the exception of the Infiniti QX60 Hybrid. The Infiniti, along with the XC90 T8, are the only two hybrid SUVs in the luxury segment to offer seating for seven, while there are a handful of others —  the Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg, Audi Q5, and Lexus RX — that offer seating for five.

But even when the new Volvo rig is compared to the Infiniti SUV, the performance stats aren’t much of a contest. The QX60 Hybrid produces 250 horsepower and gets considerably worse fuel economy, for example, but does have a big advantage on the XC90 in terms of price, if what InsideEVs reported holds true.

Of course, there are some powers gathering on the horizon that could definitely give Volvo a run for its money down the road. Tesla’s Model X, for example, has been in gestation for a long time now, and there are no doubt consumers are chomping at the bit for the chance to bring one home. There is also the possibility or likelihood that other luxury manufacturers will garner a response to challenge the XC90, whether it be from Audi, Mercedes, or some one else.

For now, it looks as if Volvo has identified an opening in the market, and is plugging in to capture a portion of it while nobody is really looking. The only other competitor in that particular segment right now, Infiniti, may have an edge in pricing, but a whole new seven-seater hybrid luxury SUV will likely get some consumers excited enough to check out the new alternative. Of course, even if Volvo is able to lock things down for now, they’ll have to gear up for a fight down the road.

The new XC90 T8 looks very impressive on paper, but we’ll have to hang on to see what kind of damage it can do in terms of sales when it ultimately hits dealer’s lots.