Volvo fast-tracks new SPA platform

SPA. They may just look like three little letters, but to Volvo, they represent the future.
- shares

Short for 'Scalable Platform Architecture', Volvo V40 technical director Sven-Gunnar Johansson told CarAdvice at the 2012 Paris motor show SPA will underpin every next-generation Volvo car and SUV.

“We are completely focused on SPA at the moment, the new platform for future Volvo cars from the small car segment to large SUVs such as the XC90," Johansson said. "This is a global strategy that is currently consuming a lot of our resources in order to put it in place and to deliver cars from that platform.

“SPA includes all the Volvo cars for the future, so it’s a massive job we have taken on."

On top of SPA, Volvo will also introduce a new family of engines consisting solely of four-cylinder petrol and diesels that may also benefit from KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) on the flywheel.

Volvo Car Corporation research and development senior vice president Peter Mertens is upbeat about the project, which he says gives the Chinese-owned Swedish manufacturer "a fresh technological start".

"When the first SPA model is launched in 2013/14, about 90 per cent of its components will be new and unique," Mertens said.

"What is more, we’re raising the bar when it comes to quality and technology level in every area. We’ll be fully on par with the very toughest competitors."

The new platform utilises lightweight technologies including high-strength steel and aluminium throughout the chassis and panels that will see all SPA models become 100-150kg lighter than current models of the same size.

Similarly, the flywheel KERS technology will offer drivers an 80 per cent power boost, meaning four-cylinder engines that perform like sixes, but with even less fuel consumed in the process.

Volvo executives are tight-lipped about which SPA-based model will be the first to roll off the assembly line, but implied the next-generation XC90 could be there abouts, given the original car has been on sale since 2003.