FRANKFURT, Germany – Volvo’s future product range will be based on two platforms engineered using a holistic approach and based on strict strategic choices: 4-cyl. engines up to 2.0L, a disciplined number of manual and automatic transmissions and front-wheel drive.
The highly stylized Volvo Concept Coupe unveiled at the auto show here is a visual manifesto of the brand’s new era.
The Swedish auto maker is driving toward a future that was on the drawing board before China’s Zhejiang Geely group acquired the company, consolidating its domestic values of safety, environmental friendliness and Scandinavian design, Peter Mertens, director-research and development, tells WardsAuto.
Outlining the auto maker’s strategy, he says the new Scalable Platform Architecture has been designed for an all-new family of front-wheel-drive powertrains utilizing more compact, lightweight 4-cyl. engines that are gasoline and diesel, to be complemented by hybrid technology.
The technical package has limited restrictions, basically only the length between the front-wheel axle and the cabin firewall. “Then you can play with everything else,” Mertens says.
The new platform allows for very short overhangs and all-new proportions. Cars can be designed for different lengths, widths and heights, from the S60 sedan to the 7-seat XC90 cross/utility vehicle.
Indeed the Concept Coupe shown here was created to demonstrate the potential of the architecture and the new design language being adopted by Volvo, even though a production version is not on the horizon.
Mertens says show cars are important to assess consumer reaction to new design ideas, and Volvo will continue to test the market at different auto shows with new models. He declines to reveal where the next two SPA-based concepts will be unveiled before the launch of the all-new XC90, but a source suggests Detroit and Geneva.
Mertens makes clear Volvo is not trying to mimic or follow the leading German premium brands by offering an assortment of vehicle types. “We are smaller and (don’t) need to be in every niche."
The next few years will see Volvo focus on its three main product lines: S sedans, V wagons and XC CUVs. Coupes and cabriolets may follow if the market is there, but no such decision has been made.
Volvo will build its entire model range with just two platforms. Smaller cars, up to the S40 and V40, will be underpinned by the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which likely will be shared with Geely brands in the near future to attain economies of scale through high-production volume.
Mertens concedes the new master plan is helping transition Volvo from its-owned era to a future of opportunities with Geely. Sources confirm the new industrial and product strategy was determined by Volvo after Ford decided to sell the brand and was well-outlined to Geely when it took over.
It is not clear if the existence of such a strategic plan was a key factor on the Chinese auto group’s decision to purchase the Volvo. But what is known is that Swedish brand is pleased with Geely’s management philosophy to "Let Volvo be Volvo and do Volvos," Mertens says.
To exploit the potential of this new partnership and expand its presence in China, Volvo rushed to design a purpose-built, long-wheelbase Volvo S60 for China that will go on sale there soon.