The upcoming total solar eclipse will be the first to be seen coast to coast in 99 years, but will only be visible over a narrow band of the country. Those who miss out won’t have a chance to see another eclipse like this until 2024. But Volvo has a plan to let as many people as possible see this spectacle.
Because historic natural phenomena also make for historic marketing opportunities, Volvo will record and broadcast the solar eclipse using a fleet of its newly redesigned XC60 SUVs. The vehicles will be equipped to capture the eclipse in 360-degree video and virtual reality. The spectacle will be broadcast globally via “live-stream, videos, photos, and more,” according to a Volvo press release.
Volvo will also equip some of the XC60s with what it calls a “Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer” that will allow passengers to watch the eclipse safely. It’s a panel made from ISO-certified 12312-2 material that attaches to a car’s roof magnetically, and covers the entire surface area of the XC60’s moonroof. The devices are being shipped to certain Volvo dealers in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri, and South Carolina, where the best live views are expected.
While probably not as significant an event as a solar eclipse, the XC60 is an important new vehicle for Volvo. It’s the first of the Swedish automaker’s midsize “60” models to use the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform from the larger XC90 SUV, S90 sedan, and V90 crossover. All three of those models were well received, and Volvo would like to repeat that success with the rest of its lineup.
In the name of fuel efficiency, Volvo only uses small, four-cylinder engines to power its larger models, and the same will be true of the XC60. Its top powertrain will be a version of the T8 “Twin Engine” plug-in hybrid setup from the XC90, S90, and V90. That powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged, and backed by electric assist. Non-hybrid four-cylinder options will be offered as well.
Volvo is getting more serious about electrified vehicles. The automaker recently announced that, starting in 2019, every new car it sells will have some form of electrification. That means every new Volvo from 2019 on will be a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery-electric car. Volvo believes electrification is key to meeting future emissions standards, and previously said it would put 1 million hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric cars on the road by 2025.
Updated: Added information about Volvo’s Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer, program webpage, and updated details on Volvo’s electrification plans.
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