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Volvo to sell current XC90 SUV alongside new-gen electric successor

John Law

Volvo’s luxurious second-gen XC90 will reportedly continue to be sold alongside its all-electric replacement in 2023

Volvo is set to launch a battery-electric flagship SUV in 2023 that will be sold alongside the current XC90 large SUV, according to Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

The upcoming EV large SUV, expected to be called the Embla, was previously thought to be the successor to the second-generation XC90 and would serve as the new range-topping model as the Swedish brand pursues an all-electric line-up 2030.

By keeping the two flagship SUVs on sale side-by-side, Volvo will offer a hybrid and fully-electric option to cater to different buyers, similar to rivals such as BMW that offer the combustion-engined X7 alongside the iX EV.

The sophisticated second-generation Volvo XC90 went on sale globally in 2015 and was the first model spawned under new owners Geely on the brand’s SPA platform. 

XC90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid R-Design, in Thunder Grey
The XC90 has been around since 2015

Volvo has plans to produce the Embla in its Charleston, South Carolina plant that opened in 2015. The facility mainly produces S60 midsize sedans, but XC90s started rolling down the production line this year. 

The current XC90 is produced for Europe and Australia in Volvo’s Torslanda plant near Gothenburg in Sweden and speaking to Automotive News Europe, Samuelsson suggested that arrangement would continue after the Embla’s release. 

“Why should we close down the old [plant] in Torslanda when you still have a market for hybrids, especially in America and China“, Samuelsson said.  

The Embla will also be joined by a smaller SUV in either 2024 or 2025 that will slot in between the current XC60 and XC90 in size.

Volvo Concept Recharge Exterior front view
Volvo’s future is all-electric

Current and next-gen XC90 expected to be sold simultaneously

Volvo offers a plug-in hybrid powertrain on the XC90 Recharge variant (priced from $116,990 before on-road costs) which combines a 2.0-litre turbo–petrol four-cylinder with an electric motor and 11.8kWh battery which provides 77km of zero emissions range (according to ADR 81/02 figures) and 0-100km/h sprint of 5.3 seconds.

The XC90 replacement will be Volvo’s first bespoke fully-electric vehicle and sit on the new SPA2 platform with no provisions for a combustion engine.

This transition is all part of Volvo’s lofty target to have half of its global sales (around 600,000 units) made up of battery-electric vehicles by 2025 which will be made easier by its learnings from all-electric Polestar sibling-brand. 

Volvo’s choice to continue producing the current SPA-based XC90 reflects a need to cater for markets that so far have not fully embraced battery EVs such as some parts of China and Australia. 

Volvo full car range
It sounds like the current XC90 will be sold alongside its electric successor

Depending on demand, Volvo will sell the vehicle it thinks suits the market best, which in certain cases will be a current plug-in hybrid or combustion-engined XC90.

It’s not the first time Volvo will have made a decision like this. When the second-gen XC90 launched the Swedish carmaker continued producing the first-gen in China for another 12 months branded as the ‘XC Classic’.

Parallels can be drawn between what CEO Hakan Samuelsson has proposed for Volvo’s future to Mazda’s premium plan.

Mazda is rolling out a whole suite of new premium SUVs using its longitudinal engined, rear-wheel-drive biased platform under the forthcoming CX-60 continuing to sell the current CX-5 as a value-oriented proposition in Australia.