The first pedestrian airbag ever was displayed by Volvo on the V40 five-door hatchback at the Geneva Auto Show. The V40, which replaces the C30, is the first model designed by Volvo under owner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China. It can be recalled that Geely acquired the automaker from Ford for $1.8 billion a couple of years ago in what’s considered as the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese automaker.
The car features an airbag that would eject from the hood after an impact in order to protect pedestrians from injury. Volvo is relying on these innovations to improve its safety image and help it double global sales.
This May, V40 production will start. It aims to achieve annual sales of 90,000, primarily in Europe, where the demand is highest for small cars in big urban areas. U.S. consumers should know that this won’t be offered in their country.
Volvo is hoping that the hatchback would appeal to potential buyers of BMW's 1 series, Audi's A3 and Mercedes' new A class, as the automaker works to push its products into the premium market. However, Volvo would still have to fill the other gaps in its product lineup and replace vehicles that are getting older as it aims to increaseA annual volume to 800,000 by 2020.
Last year, Volvo sold 449,255 cars. In comparison, Audi sold 1.3 million. Audi is a unit of Volkswagen AG, which delivered 8.27 million vehicles throughout all of its brands.
Jonathon Poskitt, the head of European sales forecasting at LMC Automotive in Oxford, said that the V40 "is an important model for the brand as it further progresses along the road to making Volvo a more viable premium-brand competitor.” He added that for Volvo to gain ground against Audi and BMW, it will have to “roll out this new, sharper styling” to the replacement vehicles that will arrive over the next few years.