Auto blogThu, 28 Aug 2014 16:30:00 EST
Things have been slow in Gothenburg the past few years, but they're picking up speed. The only new model Volvo has released in the past four years since it was taken over by Geely - that being the V40 introduced in 2012 - started its development when the company was still under Ford's umbrella. But now the Swedish automaker is preparing to launch a volley of new models, and the new XC90 is only the starting point.
Volvo has set out to align its product portfolio into three model families - 40, 60 and 90 - each with three body-styles: sedan, wagon and crossover. (Volvo presented a tidy little table, which we've replicated below, to outline what it has in store.) That means a new S40 sedan and XC40 crossover as well as a replacement for the current V40 wagon, all to be based on a new platform shared with Geely. It also means replacements for the current S60, V60 and XC60 to be based on the modular SPA platform that underpins the new XC90, as well as a new S90 sedan to replace the S80 and a new V90 wagon to succeed the V70 and move it up-market above the V60.
All of these models are set to arrive within the next four years as Volvo moves to replace its entire lineup by 2019 and subsequently move to more competitive seven-to-eight-year product life-cycles. But as aggressively as Volvo is pursuing this renewal of its core models, they're not the only things Gothenburg has in store. Keep reading below to learn how Volvo's model line will flesh out over the coming years.
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:29:00 EST
The new XC90 isn't just about the new XC90 - it's as much about the new generation of Volvos that will result.
Around the turn of the millennium, Volvo seemed like the perfect automaker to make a crossover. It had, after all, already established for itself a reputation for building all-wheel-drive wagons for transporting families in safety and comfort. But while its competitors marched one by one into the luxury utility market, Volvo held out. That was, anyway, until the debut of the original XC90 in 2002. And it's never looked back since.
Some people just have all of the luck. Natasha Oon, a 12-year-old girl in Malaysia, was recently attending the 40th RSGC Ladies Amateur Open Championship at the Royal Selangor Golf Club with her parents. On a whim, she teed up a shot with her eight iron and scored a hole-in-one. That would have been impressive for a girl her age by any standards, but she didn't see the sign that said making the shot also won her a new Volvo XC60 T5. Not a bad prize for a tween who won't be allowed to drive for at least a few years.
So what does any good 12-year-old do with a CUV? Give it to her parents of course. According to website Paultan, she plans on giving the crossover to her mom and told her, "this is the car that you will use to drive me to school every day." Scroll down to watch video of Oon receiving the oversized key to the Volvo with her family and a brief interview with her about what she was thinking when she found out she won a car for sinking a fantastic shot.
It's been months since the Concept XC Coupe debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, Volvo's last show car previewing its all-new 2015 XC90. But the production model is finally here after years of development, and it signals the future of the Swedish automaker with its Scalable Product Architecture modular platform and cutting-edge new engine family.
The 2015 XC90 carries all-new styling, but is still familiar up front, with the company's logo slashing diagonally through its prominent, upright grille. Like the concept, it carries T-Shaped LED running lights through the headlights. The company calls them the "Thor's Hammer" design, an evocative designation that we think is fantastic. Under that new front end is a choice of two quite powerful, but very efficient powertrains. The standard XC90 gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine with all-wheel drive making an impressive 316 horsepower. Or if buyers want to be a little greener and more powerful, there is the XC90 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid with the same engine, albeit augmented with an electric motor to produce a staggering 400 hp.
The exterior styling is crisp, if not quite as sensual as Volvo's latest concepts, but we think the interior is the real star here, with a dashboard that looks like it came out of a Herman Miller catalog and a unique vertically oriented infotainment screen integrated into its center stack, perhaps taking a cue from Tesla. If the cabin feels as good as it looks, we think a lot of sales are going to be won inside.
Volvo is an automaker committed to vehicle safety, setting an ambitious target for itself: by 2020, the Swedish automaker envisions that no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of its cars. In order to achieve that goal, Volvo has announced a new proving ground designed specifically to test safety solutions.
Called AstaZero, the new facility near the company's headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, is the result of a $70 million investment. It will cover some 500 acres, with over 60 acres of pavement, four city blocks and three and a half miles of highway. The Active Safety Test Area (the ASTA in AstaZero) will enable Volvo and its partners (including Scania trucks as well as government bodies and university development programs) to simulate city streets, highways, rural roads, roundabouts, T-junctions and more, combining traffic from cars, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, buses, trucks and even animals in order to account for all manner of potential hazards.
The facility will enable Volvo to test active safety systems and autonomous vehicle operations, and even allow robots to test its prototypes in an adaptive environment that aims to be more flexible than existing proving grounds. Read more about Volvo's commitment to safety in the press release below.
Pop the hood on a Volvo of recent vintage and you'll find four-, five-, six- and even eight-cylinder engines. But the Swedish automaker is downsizing its engines over the coming years. The new XC90, set to be revealed later this week, will use a new family of four-cylinder engines (like the one pictured above). But that's not even the end of it as emerging reports speak of a new three-cylinder engine family in the works.
The new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine will, according to reports, help Volvo further cut its carbon emissions in line with constricting regulations in markets like Europe and Australia. There won't be quite as many versions as the four-cylinder range, which will include gasoline and diesel versions in varying states of tune, but the three-pot motor is tipped to be employed in vehicles as large as the S60 and its stablemates. Larger than that, however, and the three-cylinder engine apparently just doesn't have the necessary torque.
Expect the new three-cylinder engine to be introduced sometime later this decade, after the four-cylinder's introduction in 2016. The three-cylinder engine is also set to form the building block of an even more efficient hybrid propulsion system in the future, enabling this new engine family to stay relevant through 2025.
If everything goes to plan, Volvo might be showing the first signs of a turnaround after several years coping with old products and a staid image. The Swedish brand is imminently launching its next-gen XC90 SUV on a completely revised, modular platform and using a cutting-edge family of engines, and it has even more products to take advantage of the fresh components on the drawing board. "We are excited about the launch of the all-new XC90, which marks the beginning of the re-launch of the Volvo brand," said CEO Håkan Samuelsson in the company's announcement. In the meantime, the business is moving back to profitability and is even forecasting growth through the rest of 2014.
In Volvo's recently released financial and sales results for the first six months of the year, volume was up 9.5 percent to 299,013 cars. On top of that, operating income reached 1.21 billion Swedish krona ($175 million) after posting a loss in the same period in 2013. Net income was also improved to 535 million Swedish krona ($77.4 million), which was also a reversal from a negative last year.
With these great results, Volvo is now forecasting 10 percent sales growth worldwide by the end of the year, and the key to it is a booming market in some regions. China, home to parent company Geely, was up 34.4 percent first half of the year. It's now Volvo's biggest market in the world and helped by exclusive models like the S60L (pictured above) and S80L. "We are growing our presence in China and we expect to sell at least 80,000 cars there this year," said Samuelsson in the company's forecast.
In two weeks' time, we'll be boarding a flight for Stockholm for the live reveal of the new Volvo XC90. But before we do, Volvo has revealed another round of salient details regarding not only its new crossover, but a whole range of new vehicles to share its architecture.
That platform is called Scalable Product Architecture, and it follows the latest industry trend towards modular platforms. The product of four years' development, the new platform uses high-strength boron steel to optimize weight and rigidity. The scalable architecture, set to underpin the next-generation S60, V60, XC60, S80 and anything larger, offers designers more flexibility in terms of proportions. It can be adapted to a wide range of vehicles of different shapes and sizes, designed from the get-go to incorporate a range of powertrains (including the XC90's new twin-charged hybrid system) and all the latest safety technologies you'd expect from a Volvo.
The XC90, Volvo has revealed, will also offer increased interior flexibility, with movable second and third rows to optimize cargo space and legroom as needed. That third row is designed to accommodate children (or small adults) up to five-foot-seven. Meanwhile the image inset above gives us our first glimpse at the new XC90's styling, with T-shaped running lights inspired by Thor's hammer.
You saw their US reveal at this year's Chicago Auto Show and read our driving impressions from Sweden. Now, if you act fast, you can actually own one of the very limited 2015.5 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar models coming to the United States. The order page for these slick Swedes is now online, but the slots are filling up about as quickly as these cars accelerate.
Volvo plans to build a combined 750 of these Polestar models for the world, but the US is being allocated just 120 of them. Prices start at $59,300 for the S60 or $60,900 for the V60 (*plus a $925 destination charge). The only option is color - either Black Sapphire or Rebel Blue. If rarity is playing a part in your decision, you might want to pick the S60. According to the reservation site, only 20 of the sedans in each color are making it over here; the rest are V60s.
As the top versions of their respective models, both Polestars are packed with features. They share a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 345 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour is claimed to take 4.7 seconds for the S60 or a tenth more for the V60 with a top speed of 155 mph. They are about more than just a hotter engine, though, with Öhlins shocks, six-piston brake calipers and 20-inch Polestar wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Check out the gallery for the full, official specs, and get to the order page soon, if you decide you need one of these limited Swedish sportsters.
Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?
Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.
A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.