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Auto blogThu, 13 Feb 2014 14:16:00 EST
Struggling Volvo may be on a verge of a renaissance thanks to the forthcoming completion of its lauded concept car trilogy, new Drive-E engine family and much-discussed SPA modular platform. Its nascent renewal is mostly being financed by $11-billion in funding from its Chinese parent company, Geely, and if it all goes right, Volvo hopes to sell 100,000 cars a year in the States by 2016. That milestone is vital, because it would ensure Volvo's US dealer network is profitable, according to Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson.
In a new Ward's Auto story, Samuelsson notes that his company is launching a slate of fresh products in the coming years, including the new-to-the-US V60 wagon and mid-cycle updates for its S60 sedan and XC60 crossover. But the most important new vehicle will be the recently spied XC90 that is expected to be unveiled just before the end of this year. Samuelsson is also looking at future vehicles for the US, including replacements for the S80 and V70. The V40 is also planned for the US, but not until the next generation, according to the Volvo CEO.
Of course, it's going to take a lot to reach 100,000 US sales in three years. Volvo sold just 61,233 units here in 2013, and according to WardsAuto, Volvo hasn't sold 100,000 cars in the US since 2007. To reach its goal, Volvo's stateside business will need to grow sales by about 40 percent.
As proof of just how quickly automotive technology can advance, just check out the Volvo V40. Developed with an external airbag aimed at better protecting pedestrians in the event of a collision, this innovative safety device could be phased out soon in place of more advanced active safety technologies like pedestrian detection and auto braking.
Go Auto had a chance to talk to Volvo senior VP Lex Kerssmakers at the Tokyo Motor Show, and he suggested that the V40's under-hood airbag will not be used on the next-gen XC90 and might not even be continued on non-SUV models. The passive airbag was designed to deploy at speeds of less than 31 miles per hour to help limit head injuries to pedestrians, but new active technologies are designed to prevent collisions in the first place.
The interview also reveals some details about the new XC90, such as the inclusion of a plug-in hybrid system and the debut of a new safety technology. Kerssmakers told Go Auto that a new Volvo concept will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but it won't be for the XC90.
You're looking at the third leg of Volvo's award-winning concept trilogy, the Concept Estate. Despite its banal name, this sweeping longroof showcar has our attention like few other cars at the Geneva Motor Show.
It's not just that we have a weakness for shooting brakes or Volvo's take on the genre in particular (we can see some P1800ES in this design). We just think this car is exceptionally well surfaced, with a fantastic stance and the sort of clean lines that are singularly appropriate of a Scandinavian design. We also appreciate the details that are expected to inform future production models, including the T-shaped headlamps, strong rear shoulders and floating grille mount. In fact, the vast majority of the Concept Estate's design idiom is expected to make it to showrooms in future models, starting with the long-overdue, second-generation XC90 crossover.
We hope - but don't expect - that attitude carries over to the interior, which has stunning, white leather, floating clamshell seats backed in plaid. If there's one cabin feature that's expected to make it to production, it's a derivative of the car's new infotainment system, which features a massive touchscreen with tablet-like gesture controls.