Take Volvo, for example. The company is preparing to launch its new three-row XC90 in the United Kingdom with a four-cylinder petrol engine, a four-cylinder diesel and a gas-powered, plug-in hybrid, which won't actually be available until later this year. Naturally, the company put together a projected take rate for each engine, with the most powerful and expensive engine, the 390-horsepower plug-in, accounting for just three to five percent of sales. They were wrong.
"We were planning on a three to five per cent take rate of this model," Volvo UK's managing director, Nick Connor, told Auto Express. "But our current rate on sold orders is over 20 per cent. We underestimated it." In this case, "underestimate" might be an understatement. The XC90 PHEV is sold out deep into 2016.
That's causing Volvo to take a second look at its PHEV strategy across its lineup, with a spokesperson telling Auto Express that, "As with XC90 the intention is that it is kept at the upper end of each model, but if it was to be something that grows considerably, we could do it across every model."
The response to Volvo's V8 plug-in shouldn't be a tremendous surprise, though, as plug-in crossovers have been met with quite a lot of success wherever they end up. Just look at the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a vehicle that's been so popular in Europe and Japan that its US debut had to be pushed off.
Considering the success of the XC90 in the UK, it should be interesting to watch how the PHEV does once it hits the US market during the fourth quarter of this year.
UPDATE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of cylinders in the engines. All engines in the XC90, diesel and gas, are four-cylinder units.