Volvo, now under the stewardship of Chinese company Geely, is in the process of a major product overhaul that by 2015 will see the introduction of all-new models, a refresh of every other model, and the disappearance of the brand’s famous five-cylinder engines.
A belated replacement for the decade-old XC90 large SUV will go on sale in 2014, while insiders have told CarAdvice Volvo’s 4WD line-up will expand to three with an XC40 model, based on the platform of the V40 hatchback, sitting below the mid-size XC60 (pictured below).
The next three years will also see major facelifts for other Volvo models such as the S60 medium sedan and its V60 wagon twin, the C70 hardtop convertible and S80 large car.
The future of the C30 three-door hatch, on which the V40 is based, is uncertain, though the S40 and V50 compact sedan and wagon are expected to be phased out.
“Volvo is getting more autonomy and independence to develop its products under Geely than what I think most industry observers expected,” a source told CarAdvice.
Volvo’s future line-up will be based on vehicle foundations the company is calling Scaleable Platform Architecture (SPA) and will underpin various sized models. It was used under the company's 2011 Concept Universe large sedan concept (pictured above).
Related models such as the S60 sedan, V60 wagon and XC60 mid-sized SUV would form one so-called platform “cluster”, with the V40 and XC40 forming another.
At the larger end of the scale, the next-generation S80 sedan can be expected to share its platform with the all-new XC90, the latter of which was previewed late last year in official Volvo design sketches (below).
Volvo is aiming to make SPA-based vehicles between 100 and 150kg lighter than the models they will replace.
Volvo’s entire line-up by 2015 will also be powered by four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines only, regardless of vehicle size.
The company is gradually discontinuing its distinctive five-cylinder turbo petrol engine (also used to good effect by former owner Ford in models such as the Focus RS), and its five-cylinder turbo diesels and six-cylinder petrol unit will follow suit, as it targets sweeping improvements in fuel efficiency throughout the range.
Performance is not being ignored, however, despite the downsizing, while the company acknowledges decent levels of torque will be necessary for bigger, heavier models such as the XC90.
“Our engineers believe they can achieve as much as 370hp (275kW) with our next-generation four-cylinders,” a company insider told CarAdvice. “That’s not a bad feat.”
For late 2012, though, the focus is on the new Volvo V40, the company’s first five-door hatchback since the 440 of the 1980s and a VW Golf-rivalling model that will be crucial to its volume aspirations.
It is expected to become Volvo’s biggest-selling model as it chases global sales of 800,000 by 2020, almost double the 450,000 vehicles it built in 2011.
The Volvo V40 will initially be limited to annual production of 90,000, though the company is exploring factory options in owner Geely’s home country of China.
Volvo has another ambitious target for 2020, with the aim of no-one being killed or seriously injured in one of its vehicles.
Volvo this week celebrated the 85th anniversary since the very first mass-produced Volvo – the OV4 – trundled off the assembly line in Gothenburg, Sweden.