EXCLUSIVE: UK: Volvo plans major range shake-up
Volvo is planning to expand its XC SUV range with a stablemate for the C30 coupe as it launches a "root and branch" overhaul of the Swedish brand's lower and upper medium range by 2010.
The 4x4/SUV counterpart for the three-door coupe will be supplemented by a V30-badged estate car (wagon) derivative, as Volvo targets the growing premium C-sector market dominated by BMW's 1-series and Audi's A3.
Described internally as "naturally filling white space with root and branch changes by the end of this decade", it also involves rationalising the S40 and S60 into one saloon (sedan), likely to carry the S60 badge, which will compete more directly with BMW's 3-series.
The S60 is unlikely to have an V60 estate car equivalent as Volvo is wary of building a car too close to its standalone successful V70 and XC70 wagons. To make room for the new S60, the current S40 is being phased out by the end of the decade, by which time the V30 and XC30 will be in showrooms.
Next March's Geneva motor show will see the XC60 compact SUV crossover appear in production form followed by a European market introduction in late summer as Volvo hopes to replicate the XC90's success against mainly German rivals. It will be largely faithful to the exterior of the previous XC60 concept car featuring sports coupe/4x4 crossover styling and combating BMW's X3, Land Rover's Freelander and Audi's upcoming Q5.
Senior Volvo management is aware of criticism that Volvo, leader in premium large estate cars, is out of kilter with its saloons, which have no complementary links to its large wagons.
Analyst Jay Nagley, managing director of Spyder Automotive, said: "Volvo needs to tidy up the mess it has made of its saloon car strategy. S40 and V50 are based on the Focus (Ford C1) platform yet have illusions about competing with 3 series BMW. S60 is a worthy misfit, between 3 and 5 Series, while S80 is designed for the US market."
John Cleland, who runs a Volvo dealership in the Scottish Borders, refused to comment on the programme but said: "People come in and ask if there are four or five door versions of the C30 and when you say they are the S40 and V50 they are puzzled."
A Volvo source said: "There is a natural area of vacant white space which we could look to fill up. It makes sense for us not to go any bigger but we could look at something smaller."
Volvo's model designation is based officially on S for saloon, V for versatility and C, apparently for charisma, not coupe.