Automaker reportedly testing prototype vehicle
By BRADFORD WERNLE | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
A source says a Volvo minivan shares elements of the Ford Galaxy, shown here.
GENEVA -- Volvo Car Corp. is conducting cold-weather testing of a prototype minivan around the town of Arvidsjaur above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, according to a source familiar with the test program.
The source says the vehicle shares components and architecture with the new Volvo S80 sedan, Ford Galaxy minivan and Ford S-Max crossover shown last week in Geneva. The prototype -- several copies are being tested -- is powered by Volvo's new 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine used in the S80, said the source.
Volvo has long rejected the industry's shift into minivans and has never offered one, insisting that it is a station-wagon company. But the Swedish automaker has announced a target of 600,000 global sales by 2008, up from about 440,000 last year, and likely would need to enter a new segment to reach that goal.
Volvo officials last week denied that a minivan project is in the works. Also, a regular Volvo supplier in Gothenburg, Sweden, said he was unaware of any minivan program.
"Volvo owns the station wagon," Olle Axelson, Volvo's public affairs chief, said in a telephone interview.
"We want to take that back as much as we can. We feel we started crossovers with the XC70 and want to continue. We don't want to leave the station wagon crossovers to others. No premium brand has ever built a minivan."
Axelson said Volvo is introducing seven products in the next three years, including two already out: the C70 convertible hardtop launched in Detroit and the S80 sedan, launched in Geneva.
Others are replacements for the V70 wagon; the XC70 crossover; the S60 sedan; the C30 small car; and a mystery vehicle, most likely the XC50 crossover, a smaller version of Volvo's successful XC90.
If there is a minivan in the works, it would come after that cycle.
Volvo did show a large station wagon, the Versatility Concept Car, or VCC, at the 2003 Geneva show. Volvo has not said that it will make the VCC, but other concepts have contributed major elements to subsequent Volvo production cars.