Built on Volvo's all-new CMA platform - Compact Modular Architecture - the 2018 Volvo XC40 is, according to head office executives, the vehicle that can deliver Volvo much needed global volume.
In fact, according to Alexander Petrovski, boss of Volvo's 40-Series models, the XC40 can even deliver volume for the brand even in Australia.
"We believe we can sell up to 4000 of these vehicles [per year] in Australia," Petrovski said. "We have very high expectations."
It's an admission that may give Australian executives a bit of a headache. To the point that CarAdvice asked him to clarify, and yes that 4000 number is a figure for the XC40 in Australia.
By comparison, BMW sold 4090 of its new X1 SUVs in 2016, and Mercedes-Benz moved 3766 GLAs.
As all manufacturers are doing now, the platform underneath the XC40 is ready to house any number of other body variants, but it was very much by design that Volvo launched the XC40 first on the new CMA architecture.
"It was a deliberate choice to use this vehicle first, in such a fast growing segment," Petrovski said. "It's the right car to choose. Expanding your portfolio brings volume, and this is the car that will bring us to the volume target of 800,000 vehicles globally."
While not willing to discuss exactly how many different vehicles will use the CMA platform, Petrovski was keen to emphasise the inherent flexibility of the platform.
"Currently, we have a number of C-segment (small) cars in the pipeline based on this architecture." he said. "I cannot disclose how many. We already have the V40, but new V40, it is highly likely will use this architecture."
There's no doubt the segment in which the XC40 finds itself is highly competitive both globally and in Australia. As such, the XC40 will have to take on well-established vehicles that have a strong foothold in the market already.
"We have defined the competitive set and we did that early on, and we stayed with it," Petrovski said. "We are talking about BMW X1, Audi Q3, to some extent the Mercedes-Benz GLA as well as the Range Rover Evoque. Those vehicles form that segment,to our belief."
Interestingly, chief designer Robin Page said the XC40 didn't have to mimic other XC variants 60 and 90. "We wanted to challenge the way we design a car," Page said. "This vehicle didn't need to be a sibling to the 90 and the 60. It could be a cousin. As such, it has its own character and its own design language."
Petrovski explained that while there isn't a hybrid version of the XC40 available from launch, there will be sometime soon.
"As you know, we disclosed plans that we will have five fully-electric cars in our lineup by 2021," Petrovski said. "This car will be one that has that type of powertrain eventually.
"From 2019 onwards, all new [Volvo] cars will be equipped with some kind of electrification. While this XC40 does have pure combustion engines now, from 2019 onwards that will change."
CarAdvice can report that the XC40 will launch in Europe with two engine variants, both AWD. "Today we have D4 AWD diesel and a T5 AWD petrol, they go on sale in Europe today," Petrovski said. "As of today, we are only offering AWD, but there will be FWD versions coming."
The 2018 Volvo XC40 goes on sale in Australia, in the second quarter of 2018.
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