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Old 03-10-2003, 07:06   #1 (permalink)
Mr. Embargo
 
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Volvo might do small car but no S-class challenger planned

Source: just-auto.com editorial team

Volvo will “most likely” launch a new small car, says CEO Hans-Olov Olsson, according to Automotive News Europe.

But while Volvo is still considering a car smaller than the S40, it has no plans to extend its range upward into BMW 7-series and Mercedes-Benz S-class territory.

As for a small car, Olsson said: “First we have to look at the business case. We are not in a hurry. We have so much on our plate. But we will probably decide on the introduction of a smaller model during the next 12 to 24 months.”

Volvo hopes to increase its annual global sales from about 400,000 to 600,000 units — but Olsson has never specified a target date for that goal. Even without a new small car, “we can grow with our current portfolio, including the successor to the S40,” said Olsson.

“We also need to continue development of crossover vehicles, with sport-utilities and station wagons alongside our sedans. But we won’t add any minivans.”

The Versatility Concept Car, or VCC, seen at the Geneva auto show last week shows Volvo’s ideas for a possible V90 station wagon.

In the past, station wagons have accounted for 70% of Volvo’s sales volume. But now sedans make up about half of Volvo sales.

Even so, “station wagons are our heritage,” said Lex Kerssemakers, vice president for global marketing.

Kerssemakers said Volvo — part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands — does not want to expand into larger segments.

“Apart from the S40, S60 and S80, we won’t come up with any other sedans,” he said. “Volvo is not going to compete in the upper-luxury segment alongside the Mercedes-Benz S class or BMW 7 series.”

But Kerssemakers sees possibilities at the lower end of the market.

“There is more growth potential in other segments. It could be with an Audi A3 competitor,” he said. “We are working hard on future strategies and new platforms, including one for a model smaller than the S40.”

Kerssemakers said Volvo might need such a model to lower its corporate CO2 emission levels, as well as to achieve its growth targets.

“But such a model should fit within the portfolio of other Ford-owned brands,” he stressed.

Volvo is also working on a successor to the platform for the S60, V70 and S80 models timed for the S80 replacement in four or five years.

“We not only need, but will develop a new, larger platform for Volvo, Ford of Europe, and partly for Jaguar and Land Rover,” said Olsson.

“Volvo and Ford of Europe are leading the development but we are in the forefront,” he said.

The platform will be front-wheel drive but not will not be used for aluminium-bodied cars.

“We already have aluminium parts such as hoods and axles. But I don’t think we can justify an aluminium body structure in the next platform generation,” Olsson added.

Volvo’s successor to the sedan currently built at the NedCar plant in Born, the Netherlands, will again be called the S40. It will be based on Ford’s latest medium-size platform architecture, which is shared with the Mazda 3.

Both Volvo and Mazda models arrive this autumn. Volvo will move production of the new S40 to Ghent, Belgium, now that NedCar has become a wholly owned Mitsubishi operation. The current S40 shares a platform with the Mitsubishi Carisma. But while S60 and V70 are built on a single assembly line in Ghent, the new S40 will be made on a separate line.

But the successor to the current V40 wagon may be more than just an extension of the S40.

“Letters at Volvo stand for life styles, not body styles,” said Kerssemakers. “The new model could be called a V50 and it might offer more than just a station wagon body style. We are working more with modules these days. Creating a convertible with four-wheel drive is a possibility within this philosophy.”

Premier Automotive Group sources also say that Volvo wants to develop a XC50 model, using drivetrain modules from the Land Rover Freelander, the ANE report concluded.
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