Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby said that by 2017-2018, the technical tie-up between Volvo and its former owner Ford would already be totally dissolved and that the Swedish brand would be taking its operations exclusively in-house. Volvo is working on a new platform to be known as SPA (Scaleable Product Architecture). It can underpin 70 to 80% of all of Volvo’s future cars.
Furthermore, new powertrains are being developed under the VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) program. At the Geneva Motor Show, Volvo will unveil one car, which is the replacement of the current Ford-based S40 saloon and V50 estate.
Jacoby said that this segment’s “sweet spot” is a hatchback. Hence, there won’t be a small estate anymore. There will only just be a new V40 which has a typical production rate of 90,000 units annually. The focus will be on four-cylinder engines that have a capacity of 2.0 litres (diesel and petrol), with various outputs that range from 150hp to more than 300hp.
It will continue to be known as Volvo's smallest car, together with the C30, for the forseeable future. Volvo asserted that it doesn’t plan on following Audi into the supermini market. Jacoby said that for the moment, Volvo’s limit is the C-segment (compact family cars).
He said that the priority is on finding replacements for its current portfolio and that a plan to join a new segment will be considered later. But then, he doubts whether Volvo will ever enter the A-segment (superminis). Jacoby said that Volvo is expected to do well in the SUV segment. He added that he hopes to see a model positioned below the current XC60.
He believes that the ideal lineup would be if it would offer “something smaller than the XC60.” He explained that there are two segments that it may consider joining but then it doesn’t want to be in too many niches. Jacoby thinks that in five years, nearly all Volvos will have some form of electrification, ranging from stop-start systems to full hybrid power.
Later in 2012, the V60 diesel-electric plug-in hybrid will be launched in Europe. An XC60 with petrol-electric power was displayed at the Detroit show. This has an electric system that’s the same as that of its V60 hybrid with a 280bhp petrol engine that the VEA program is currently developing.
The Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept makes use of an All-Wheel-Drive button in order to trigger its electric four-wheel drive. For those familiar, the power in typical four-wheel drives is transferred mechanically. However for the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept, there is a central control unit which supplies the rear axle, which is electrically driven, with power.
This same central control unit is also the one that provides power to the front wheels, which themselves are driven by gasoline. In addition, Volvo has designed this electric four-wheel drive system to allow improved traction not only when starting but even when driving on a slippery highway, like ones covered in mud or snow. An interesting feature of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is that the power can be saved for later use.
To do this, all that needs to be done is to trigger Save and then the generator charges and when needed tops up its battery pack. The goal of this power saving feature is to make sure that the battery has enough power to allow the vehicle to go as far as 20 km (12 miles) on pure electricity. This particular distance is, in fact, enough for a drive in the city or an urban green zone.
In terms of design, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept comes in a white color and when fitted with the 21-inch wheels, highlights its powerful look. Meanwhile on the interior, one can see the use of distinct colors and details.
Examples of these include blue-grey wood inlays and leather upholstery in dark-blue. Meanwhile the instruments have been customized to ensure that the driver gets all the important information like the remaining range, electricity consumption, petrol consumption, and the current level of the battery charge.