More stories related to 2005 Greater L.A. Auto Show The car company best known for keeping drivers safe will push the performance envelop to the limit with a supercar-like cross/utility vehicle slated to bow as a concept at next week’s Greater L.A. Auto Show.

Volvo Car Corp. will unleash a supercharged version of its V-8-powered XC90, which a spokesman says is capable of 600 hp. The XC90 is dressed in a specialized body kit that is painted yellow and was created by Aria Development Group.

Barring any unexpected surprises from other auto makers, the Swedish auto maker’s CUV will be the highest-output car introduced at the 2005 show. Ferrari SpA plans to debut a Pininfarina SpA-designed 12-cyl. roadster called the Superamerica that is capable of 540-hp. (See related story: Ferrari to Unveil New Convertible)

Volvo builds on its SEMA concept, pictured here.

Volvo showcased a 650-hp show car at the Specialty Equipment Market Assn. show last month in Las Vegas, but “the L.A. car is the real deal,” the spokesman says, noting this latest concept has had an additional couple months’ development and actually is drivable.

Volvo is looking to create buzz for its new, 311-hp 4.4L V-8 engine, which hits streets in the XC90 early in 2005. The engine was developed for Volvo parent Ford Motor Co. by Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (See related story: Volvo XC90 V8 ‘Huge Opportunity’)

“No, we aren't building it. It's simply a way to see just how far we could push the envelope in terms of the new V-8 engine,” the Volvo spokesman says of the concept vehicle

In order to nearly double power output, Volvo had to introduce an entirely new engine management system under the hood. The factory system has “no idea what supercharging means,” the spokesman says.

The SEMA show car, which was painted Ferrari red and wore a yellow emblem shaped like a Ferrari badge but picturing a moose instead of the Ferrari prancing horse, generated interest among Hollywood types who currently own XC90 CUVs, but are looking for more power.

However, Volvo will not commit to supercharging XC90s, even for its most affluent and high-profile of buyers, the spokesman says.

Volvo, long known for modestly powered turbocharged passenger cars, earlier this decade launched juiced-up R versions of its S60 sedan and V70 wagon. Since then, the auto maker has been heralding its performance proficiency as a brand characteristic, much like its longstanding reputation for safety.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com