Speaking with CarAdvice at the Geneva motor show, Volvo research and development senior vice president Peter Mertens admitted the Swedish manufacturer’s development times were currently off the pace of industry leaders, but promised Volvo would “absolutely” accelerate past its sharpest rivals in the future.
“The best manufacturers in the industry might be around 27 months right now,” Mertens said of the benchmark-setting development times of some makers.
“We are a bit slower than that, but we will be significantly faster in the future. Significantly.”
Mertens admitted the goal was “very ambitious” but worthwhile as it would enable Volvo to react quicker to market changes, roll through updates faster and shorten vehicle lifecycles.
The R&D boss said its new modular Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) underpinnings for medium/large cars and SUVs and its forthcoming Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform for smaller models were central to quickening its pace in all areas.
“That is one of the reasons we have chosen to go for a completely new technical platform and being able on that architecture to put the ‘hats’ on relatively fast and flexible,” Mertens said.
Volvo’s large cars are currently among the oldest on the market. The Volvo XC90, which will finally be replaced by an all-new model later this year, has been in production since 2002. Two of its key competitors, the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, have evolved from first- to third-generation models in that time. Additionally, one of the world’s fastest updaters, the Volkswagen Golf, has advanced through four generations since 2003.
The S80 sedan turns eight this year, and the V70 and XC70 wagons turn seven, and while replacements are in the wings, Volvo is yet to officially announce when new generation versions of those models will launch.
Mertens said new models based on its new platforms would aim for lifecycles of six to seven years, which he said was the industry standard.
New-generation versions of the V70 and off-road-styled XC70 wagons will follow the all-new XC90, and Mertens revealed the duo would take significant inspiration from the Volvo Concept Estate that debuted in Geneva.
“It’s the new design language, specifically in the front,” he said. “The face, the headlamps, are going to be seen in all cars in the future.
“The rear is always very important to us, especially when it comes to tail-lamp design, and yes, you will see that on our future cars. It’s the next iteration of our design DNA of the rear lamps, on the SUVs as well as estates and on the sedans.”