VCC says it has more than 36,000 "pre-orders" for the XC90

VCC says it has more than 36,000 "pre-orders" for the XC90

The doubters appear to have been proved wrong, if sales of the new XC90 in Sweden are any indication: Volvo's pricey SUV on its own took a full percentage point of the May new car market, even though brand sales were down by four percent.

Registrations of new vehicles rose for a seventeenth consecutive month to 29,458, with Volvo maintaining its long-time number one status, with a 19.3% share. That's especially impressive given the age and ongoing decline of the V70, the country's traditional number one model. The XC60 is much of the reason, and it even outsold the new Passat in May, to take second place.

As is well documented, Volvo has for many years had an average market share of around 20% at home, and higher still in the greater Gothenburg area. So it will gladden the hearts of the company's chief brand strategist and of its CFO too, to note that Swedes can be persuaded to pay high prices for Volvos. How high? Well, the XC90 ranges from SEK558,000-770,000 (US$66,071-91,172). That bodes very well indeed for the potential worldwide success of not only the XC90 but the presumably equally expensive future S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country.

Until now, the Swedes have generally considered Volvo to be like Volkswagen, an egalitarian brand. Imagine if Ford of Britain launched an SUV which was listed at GBP43,000-60,000. Imagine that anyone would buy it, let alone one percent of all new car buyers. And then there was a waiting list, and even dearer variants were being planned. That's how significant this suddenly successful pricing and branding experiment by Volvo is.

As well as the strong performance of the XC90 in May, the Swedish market is of interest to analysts for one other reason - the rise of Kia and the decline of Toyota. The cee'd outsold the Auris last month. Brand totals were 1,628 versus 1,608 in the Japanese company's favour but Kia Motors Europe will be chuffed to bits by that performance. Hyundai? It was in 12th place with only 987 units sold. As the end of the first five months, it has 2.8% of the market, while Kia has 5.1%.

Another wanting-to-be-premium brand feeling happy will be Jaguar, its sales surging by 600%. To, er, 14 cars. It did however, outperform smart, despite the fortwo and forfour managing to have a sales rise of 1,150%. To eight cars.

And finally...whoever thought Saab was dormant needs to look at the official numbers compiled by Bil Sweden. A total of seven units were registered. Things can only get better for NEVS. Perhaps developing a big, high-priced, seven-seat SUV powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines might be an idea?