Volvo may speed up production of its new XC90 sport utility after hundreds were lost in a shipping accident in the English Channel, the company said on Wednesday, according to Associated Press (AP).

The UK head offices of Volvo and BMW told just-auto that none of the 2,900 new cars lost after a container ship collided with a car carrier were destined for their UK dealers. Saab Great Britain could not be reached for comment.

BMW and Volvo officials said they understood the sunken Norwegian-registered Tricolour was calling at Southampton only to pick up UK-built export vehicles for the United States.

The AP report said the number of buyers interested in Volvo's XC90, combined with the loss of 350 in the sunken ship, has caused concern that demand may outstrip supply.

Unconfirmed reports in the UK earlier this week said Volvo was considering refurbishing any salvaged cars, which it would not sell as new, but TV pictures of the wreck - which was subsequently hit by a third ship - lying on its side in shallow water suggest that the cars are all likely to have been damaged beyond repair. Other reports said salvage would, in any case, take months.

AP said delivery times for the XC90 are already long with Swedish buyers having to wait as long as a year to acquire the four-wheel drive SUV. After the accident, there were fears the wait times could be longer.

"We have a general increase in orders for the XC90 model which means that we are now looking at the possibility to increase production," Volvo spokesman Christer Gustafsson told Associated Press.

"Initially we aimed at 50,000 cars of the type per year and are now aiming for between 55,000 and 60,000," he said.

AP said Volvo has sold about 9,000 XC90s, more than half of them in the United States alone, since the model's introduction earlier this year.