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Old 03-14-2006, 08:31   #1 (permalink)
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US:Volvo considers replacing its S60 sedan

Deep-sixed?
Volvo considers replacing its S60 sedan

By JULIAN RENDELL
AutoWeek
Photo's by Global Auto Index


The Volvo S60, pictured, may be replaced by the new S80.


Could this S80 replace the S60?

Volvo’s all-new S80 could replace the smaller S60 sedan in a radical product-plan overhaul under consideration at the Ford-owned Swedish carmaker.

Volvo hasn’t committed to a replacement for the S60, and is mulling over whether the investment would be more profitably spent on new models like a crossover, coupe or sports car that would expand Volvo’s range.

“For the future, Volvo has to maintain its existing sales, but also enter new segments, and we have to decide where to put our pot of investment cash,” says Volvo’s product planning chief Lex Kerssemakers.
Could this S80 replace the S60?

New Volvo design chief Steve Mattin (whose work at Mercedes included the SL) believes Volvo should explore the sports car market: “There is potential out there. Sports cars add sex appeal.”

The future of the S60 is tied in with the next-generation S40/V50, due in 2010. Inevitably the S40 will grow in length to more than 177 inches, matching the BMW 3 Series and closing the gap on today’s 180-inch S60. At the same time, the new S80 is a sportier model with an overall length maintained at 191 inches, squeezing the S60 between a bigger S40 and sportier S80.

As the S40 pushes upmarket, its place in the model range will be taken by an expanded range of C30-derived hatches and sedans to maintain Volvo’s market coverage.

But dropping the S60 could throw a major wrench into Volvo’s plan to expand production by 150,000 cars to 600,000 by 2009. The S60 currently makes up 60,000 sales, though it peaked just after launch in 2000 with 100,000 sales.

Though the plan looks logical in the long term, Volvo faces a struggle near term to convince S60 owners that a bigger S80 or smaller S40 will do the same job, or else move them into the new XC50 4x4 due for production approval this year.

The final decision lies at the highest level in Ford and its Premier Automotive Group. “If it was up to me, there will be a new S60. It sells well in the U.S., and I would be reluctant to let it go,” says Kerssemakers.
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