Geely’s China-Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT), an R&D centre based in the Swedish homeland of subsidiary Volvo, is understood to have confirmed the beginning of advanced development for its new small-car program this week.
Opened in late 2013, CEVT’s purpose is to develop an advanced C-segment (small) car platform for Geely Auto and Volvo, from the core architecture to powertrains and visible ‘top hat’ aspects, including customer-facing systems and styling.
According to a report this week with the UK’s Autocar magazine, the CEVT centre is now deep into development on the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which will spawn models for both brands.
As with the Scaleable Platform Architecture (SPA) that underpins the XC90 SUV and will feature in other large and mid-sized Volvo models, the new platform is being developed for use in light and small cars across different segments.
Both models will be sold as premium offerings globally, including in China, while more affordable Geely versions will likewise be offered in markets worldwide.
Depending on the intended application, the platform will feature different core components and technologies – some focused on the requirements of the premium Volvo brand and some on the volume-selling Geely range.
CEVT says this strategy is based on “performance steps” on a modular level, “for instance a front module with different performance levels for handling, noise and vibrations”.
This means, of course, that buyers of the more expensive Volvo range can expect a higher level of refinement than that offered with the volume-focused Geely brand.
In that respect, Volvo will be the Audi to Geely’s Volkswagen, and that’s a strategy that has become well-known since the Chinese company acquired Volvo in 2010.
The new XC90 represents the first major step in Volvo’s plan to directly rival the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, and buyers can expect the next V40 to be positioned very openly as a rival to the 1 Series, A-Class and A3.
CEVT has yet to reveal specific details for the new V40, although clues can be found on the centre’s recruitment page, which lists roles that call for experience in hybrid systems.
All of this points to a hybrid model in the next V40 range, while a plug-in hybrid option has also been hinted at for the new XC40.
Watch for these new models, including new offerings in Geely’s heavily reported assault on western markets, to appear in the next two to three years.