40.1 concept points the way to XC40

40.1 concept points the way to XC40

Following on from two recent features concerning future models for the Lynk & Co, Geely and Geely Emgrand brands, now comes the final part in a series: current and future Volvo vehicles.

Now handsomely profitable once more, Volvo Cars is in the midst of renewing and expanding its range. The three so-called 90 Cluster models - XC90, V90 and V90 Cross Country - are either now firmly established as successful or else ramping up.

Next comes the tricky job of replacing the extraordinarily popular XC60. Extraordinary due to the vehicle's age. This remains easily the brand's best seller, even though the model first entered production in September 2008. In February, sales totalled 11,393 units worldwide, a 21 per cent gain on the same month of 2016. This was also twice the total number of the brand's next best sellers, the combined V40/V40 Cross Country (CC), and the XC90.

What Volvo needs more than a seamless transition to the new-shape XC60, which will soon happen, is a raft of high-margin models selling in good volumes. Until now, the D- and E-segment SUVs have been the big money spinners, with the V40 and its CC derivative being the only other vehicles selling in strong numbers. The S80, S80L, V70 and XC70 were allowed to become too old, which is an unfortunate Volvo tradition. The company now has the cash to bring down lifecycles to seven years from the usual almost nine years in some cases. What's more, there is also money to expand into new segments, even if this is taking more time than is ideal.

We mustn't forget that Volvo isn't anywhere near the size of the German Big Three, so pushing into vehicle classes such as where the Audi Q2 resides cannot happen overnight given the firm's expanding but still comparatively modest R&D resources. Starting at the top end of its range was both sensible and necessary, as the first generation XC90 was 13 years old when finally replaced in 2015, and the S80 was ten when succeeded by the S90 last year.

A particular boon has been the sharing of architecture and powertrain development with Geely Auto. This should pay big dividends in the coming years as the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) plus a range of 1.5-litre three-cylinder and 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines are standardised for all of Volvo's future models.

The in-line six-cylinder engines which Ford manufactured for Volvo at Bridgend in Wales are now gone, as are most of the made-in-Sweden in-line fives. The I5 diesel is still built but only in small volumes. It should be discontinued by the end of 2018, coinciding with the end of production for the current S60 and V60. The 'Drive-E' petrol and diesel engines which shall eventually be the only ones fitted to Volvo vehicles, are manufactured in Sweden at the Skövde powertrain plant.

High margin/high performance Polestar model variants are all now powered by the company's Drive-E engine family, some of which have electrification. This philosophy of only selling vehicles with three- or four-cylinder engines, plus EVs and PHEVs gives the company strong environmental credentials and future proofs it against any major rise in the price of oil. Crucially, not having five-, six- or eight-cylinder engines in the big S90 and XC90 does not appear to matter to buyers in markets such as the USA, Canada, China and Australia.

Eco-cred and elegant Scandinavian style, added to the message of being a long-time safety leader should add up to Volvo finding itself as a sought after premium brand and an alternative to German, Japanese and English luxury marque rivals. Not forgetting cutting-edge tech too, as attested by the company's highly public experiments with autonomous 'Drive Me' prototypes on several continents.

B segment

Volvo and Geely are said to be developing a new architecture for B segment models. For Volvo, the obvious rivals would be the successors for the Audi A1 and S1 plus a potential future Q1, while Geely could use the platform to replace a variety of current small cars. The tentatively titled 'BSA' (B segment Small Architecture) should be a JV between Geely and Volvo Cars. It may already be under development in Gothenburg by CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology now that this R&D centre's work on bringing CMA to the production stage is more or less complete. In fact, CMA is highly likely to have much in common with the Compact Modular Architecture. 

The first B segment cars should begin to appear in 2020. All are likely to be available with Volvo's 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, and there may also be a diesel of the same capacity. The supposed model names for these vehicles would be C20 (three-door hatchback) and V20 (five-door hatchback), plus an XC20 SUV. See the section below on SUVs for the last of these.

C segment

V320, the future S40, is to be a rival for the Audi A3 sedan. It is expected to be built in China and Belgium. There should also be an S40 Polestar high performance variant which would challenge the Audi S3 and RS 3 sedans. Unlike those vehicles, the car itself might be a PHEV, in which case it would logically be called S40 T4 Twin Engine.

The Luqiao plant, which is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holdings but operated by Volvo Cars, will make not only Volvo's next range of 40-series CMA-based cars but also CMA-based models for Lynk & Co.

Meanwhile, the next V40, which should also be released in 2019, will be five-door hatchback counterpart to the S40. A Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is also expected. Volvo Cars may even sell the V40 or possibly just the plug-in hybrid, in the US and Canada. The only North American country where the current V40 is available is Mexico.

The current Y555 V40 has been around since May 2012 and had a facelift last year. That update is expected to be the car's final styling changes. As for what replaces the V40 Cross Country, there may well be mildly modified versions of both the S40 and next V40, each with raised suspension in the style of the current V40 CC. 

D segment

Y283, the current S60, is likely to be in its last year of production though there is a chance it might continue until the first half of 2018. This second generation model had its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March 2010 and went on sale across Europe four months later. Like the V60, which is the estate version, the platform is Ford's EUCD.

Volvo has steadily phased out the car's original four-, five- and six-cylinder engines during recent years, replacing them with its Drive-E 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units. A 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine became available in certain countries from mid-2015.

Pre-production of the S60L, a special long wheelbase car initially just for China, commenced in June 2013. This was the first model to be built at Volvo's Chengdu plant, which had an initial capacity of 120,000 vehicles per annum. This facility is a full production plant including a Press shop, Body shop, Paint shop and Final Assembly. Chengdu is or will be for C & D segment models, while another plant at Daqing in the country's northwest is for larger models - the XC Classic (renamed first generation XC90) entered production there in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Cars would be exported from China to the US "fairly quickly", Volvo's CEO Hakan Samuelsson told attendees at a conference in Detroit in January 2014. No specific models were named. In November 2014, it was announced that the S60L would be sold in the US from the second half of 2015. The US market's S60 Inscription, which is the LWB import from China, premiered at the Detroit auto show in January 2015, a debut for the local market's 2016 model year.

The S60L was officially launched at the Chengdu motor show in August 2013, series production getting underway three months later.

A facelifted S60 had its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. In North America, this was the 2014 model year S60.

An additional variant, the S60 Cross Country, had its world premiere at the Detroit auto show in January 2015. In North America, where it was new for the 2016 model year, it is powered by the T5 engine and has standard all-wheel drive. Versions for Europe are also available with front-wheel drive and diesel engines in addition to petrol engines and with all-wheel drive.

The S60 was for years built at both of Volvo's European plants but due to the need to manufacture more XC90s at Torslanda, production of the sedan was stopped there in September 2015. Build continues at Ghent in Belgium.

V431, the third generation S60, should appear in 2018 and be based upon SPA. It will be made in Sweden, China and the USA. Volvo's forthcoming Berkeley County plant in South Carolina will have an initial capacity of 100,000 units per annum. It has been confirmed that the US plant will be for SPA vehicles and that the S60 will be one of two models to be built there. The other would logically be the new XC60.

Volvo's May 2015 announcement noted the following:

The Berkeley County factory, located outside of Charleston, will make latest generation Volvo models for sale in the United States and for export. Construction will begin in early autumn 2015, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018.

Contractors began building the US plant in September 2015, with "late 2018" announced as the date when it is scheduled to open.

The Y352 V60, which, like the S60, should be replaced in 2018, went on sale across Europe in October 2010, only days after its world premiere at the Paris motor show. Powertrains are shared with the S60 and there is also a V60 Cross Country variant.

When making the January 2016 announcement about plant location changes for the S60, Volvo also noted that it would relocate production of the V60 from Torslanda (Sweden) to Ghent (Belgium) from early 2017. This was to make room for the V90 and V90 Cross Country models at the company's main Swedish plant. Rather than relocating the V60's bodyshop tools, body panels are still made in Sweden. They are transported to Ghent, where final assembly of the V60 now takes place.

V432 is the development code for the next generation V60. In common with the S60, it will switch to SPA. As D segment estates are not popular in the USA and China, production will be at Torslanda only. The car should be revealed a few months after the arrival of the S60, which likely means early 2019. There will of course also be a replacement for the V60 Cross Country.

E segment

V541, the S90, replaced the S80. It is larger, more expensive (thus the name change) and more adventurously styled. This big sedan had its world premiere at the Detroit auto show in January 2016. The car went on sale in the US in July 2016 with that market expected to be the second largest after China, where sales commenced in May 2016. Volvo believes it can sell between 15,000 and 20,000 units of this vehicle in the US during 2017. Sales targets for China, Europe, Russia and other likely major markets have not been revealed.

Two versions of an extended-wheelbase S90 had their world premiere at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2016. These 5,083mm long cars are built only in China (the standard wheelbase S90 is an import to the PRC) and there will soon be exports to the USA and Europe. LWB cars for the Chinese market went on sale in December 2016.

As well as the S90 Long Wheelbase, there is another model which was especially developed for China: a three-seat car called the S90 Excellence. The latter has the front passenger seat replaced by what Volvo calls a 'Lounge Console'. This means a chauffeur-driven passenger may either stretch out or work. The Excellence also comes with a panoramic roof, work tables, a heated and cooled cup holder, an adjustable footrest and a built-in entertainment system featuring a large display for work or entertainment purposes. The Excellence also includes rear-seat touchscreen controls, a built-in refrigeration compartment and Orrefors crystal glasses. The only engine for this car will be the T8 Twin Engine 2.0-litre petrol plug-in hybrid.

The S90 Long Wheelbase also has the Twin Engine powertrain but in addition to that, there are cheaper variants powered by Volvo's T4 and T5 petrol turbo 2.0-litre engines. These cars went into production in November 2016 at Daqing, while build of the Excellence will follow later in 2017.

There was a further announcement concerning the S90 made in conjunction with the debuts of the new long-wheelbase cars just ahead of the Guangzhou show: build of the standard wheelbase cars will end in Sweden (Torslanda) and be added to the line at Daqing, which is in Heilongjiang province in China's northwest.

A mid-life facelift for the S90 range should appear in the third quarter of 2019. The second generation model, which will use an evolved version of the Scalable Product Architecture, is due in 2023.

V542, the replacement for the V70, released in mid-2016, changed names to V90. This reflects the fact that it is the wagon version ('Versatile') of the S90 ('Sedan').

Much of the front-end styling of the V90 was previewed by the Volvo Estate concept which debuted at the 2014 Geneva motor show. The car had its public debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2016. Production commenced at Torslanda three months later, with the first examples in European showrooms from August 2016 and in North American ones during 2017 for the region's 2018 model year. In the USA, the V90 is available for special order only though this may change if the vehicle starts to sell in more than the expected small numbers.

The V90 Cross Country, which replaced the XC70, is closely based on the V90. Production at Torslanda near Volvo's headquarters in Gothenburg commenced in October 2016. Cars for the USA, which could well become the largest market, went on sale there earlier in March, new for the country's 2017 model year. There should be a facelift in 2020 and a second generation model using an update of SPA, in 2023.

SUVs

A small SUV, the XC20, is some years away but said to be in the planning stages. Few details of this proposed vehicle are known, other than V216 as the supposed project code, and a production start date of 2020 or 2021. Build should be at Ghent and possibly also at Luqiao. The latter is a district of the eastern China city of Taizhou and 350km south of Shanghai.

Unlike the tentative XC20, the larger V316 XC40 is now at an advanced stage of development. This additional model is intended to be a rival for the BMW X4. Volvo revealed the 40.1 and 40.2 concepts to the media at an event in May 2016. The first of these was a preview of a concept crossover (see image above) and the second was a five-door hatchback (a guide to how the next V40 may look).

This model will be available with Volvo's 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, and there should be a diesel of the same capacity.

The XC40 should be built in both Ghent (Belgium) and Luqiao. The Chinese plant, which is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holdings but operated by Volvo Cars, will make not only Volvo's next range of 40-Cluster Compact Modular Architecture vehicles, but also CMA models for Lynk & Co.

Lex Kerssemakers, the head of Volvo Car USA, told journalists at the LA auto show in November 2016 that the XC40 would be available in North America from late 2017.

V426, the second generation XC60, had its world premiere at the 2017 Geneva motor show. Like the 90-Cluster models, it uses SPA. In China, it will be made at either the Chengdu or Daqing plants. Due to this being where the China-made S90 is to be produced, Daqing is already a designated SPA plant but so too is Chengdu. As Volvo told the media in November 2016 that Ghent will in future build only CMA vehicles, the new XC60's European production location is Torslanda. Production at the Swedish plant will commence in April. The outgoing Y413 XC60 was/is built in Ghent and Chengdu. The volume which the Belgian factory has lost with the end of XC60 build there should be made up by production of the XC40 and other future 40-Cluster models.

Volvo's forthcoming Berkeley County plant in South Carolina should also manufacture the next XC60, though only the next S60 has been confirmed so far by Volvo. The plant is being erected at a 2,800-acre site called the Camp Hall tract in Ridgeville.

In May 2015, Lars Wrebo, global senior VP of Purchasing and Manufacturing, told a US automotive trade magazine that the local content of vehicles coming out of South Carolina would be 55 to 60 percent. This is because engines will be sourced from Sweden. The company would have to build 300,000 vehicles annually at the US plant to justify adding a powertrain production facility.

V526, which must surely now be Volvo's most profitable model, went into production at Torslanda in January 2015. The second generation XC90 was revealed to the media in August 2014, with its public debut two months later at the Paris motor show.

While the XC90 is manufactured in Sweden, Geely is said to be planning to also eventually build or assemble the model at one of two Chinese plants; most likely Daqing. This plant began making the first generation XC90, renamed 'XC Classic' during the fourth quarter of 2014. The second generation XC90 went on sale in China (as an import) in May 2015. Daqing begins production of the S90 this year, so therefore being a SPA plant, adding the XC90 would make sense.

The second generation XC90 was the first vehicle to use SPA. It is exclusively powered by four-cylinder engines. Both petrol and diesel Drive-E 2.0-litre units share an 82.0mm bore and a 93.2mm stroke for a displacement of 1969 cm³. Head and block are aluminium.

The XC90's largest market is the US. This big SUV, along with the next S60 and the new XC60, will greatly help VCNA with its stated goal of selling in excess of 100,000 cars annually in the US by 2020.

Unlike the previous XC90, the current one is also available with air suspension and there is also a transverse leaf spring at the rear. No long wheelbase version is planned, just-auto.com was told in August 2014. However, a special four-seat extra legroom luxury version was seen for the first time at April 2015's Shanghai motor show. This, the XC90 Excellence, went on sale in China and certain other markets from mid-2015. The Excellence has footrests, ambient lighting, illuminated storage and unique leather detailing in blonde or charcoal, a luggage compartment dividing screen, additional sound insulation in the cabin and Pirelli Noise Cancelling System tyres (PNCS).

A further derivative of the Excellence was revealed alongside it at the 2015 Auto Shanghai. This was the XC90 Excellence Lounge Console Concept. Designed for those who would have a chauffeur drive them, the front passenger seat is replaced by an ottoman which also incorporates a table and a 17" media screen as well as a large vanity mirror.

The XC90 Polestar, the most powerful Volvo yet, was announced to the media in June 2016. This variant, which is also a PHEV, has a petrol engine which produces 421hp and 680Nm. VCC claims 0-100 km/h takes just in 5.5 seconds, with average consumption of 2.1 l/100 km and 43km of electric range.

The Polestar was previewed by the 450hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept which was announced in October 2014. This utilised two parallel turbochargers, fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, was instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers. Fuel was fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure.

As for other Polestar models, expect new generations of the S60 and V60 high performance variants in 2019 and before then, an XC60 Polestar. There should also be versions of the next S40, V40 and XC40.

Returning to the XC90, Volvo will hopefully not repeat the terrible mistake it was forced to make during the years when it was starved of funds to invest in new models. That saw the first generation XC90 stay in production way too long, losing leadership of its segment. That lesson learned, the latest model should be facelifted in the third quarter of 2018 and then replaced in early 2022. It is thought that the company will now ensure that its vehicles have seven-year lifecycles, though some may be stretched to eight years with a second facelift.

Electrified models

For a relatively small OEM, Volvo has been faster than many larger rivals in launching PHEVs. A good example is the S60 Twin Engine, a plug-in hybrid version of the long wheelbase S60. This had its world premiere at the Beijing motor show in April 2014. It entered production in March 2015 but the model name changed from T8 to S60L T6 Twin Engine. The car went on sale in China from April 2015 - there is no availability in other markets.

The S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) prototype had a quoted power output of 315hp with torque of "350+200Nm" of torque. The 2.0-litre turbocharged 'Drive-E' engine produced 238hp. In the production model, the quoted outputs are as follows:

  • rear-axle drive 50kW electric motor, powered by an 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
  • 306hp (238 + 68hp) and 350 + 200Nm
  • emissions of 49g/km
  • up to 53km on EV power

The S60L Twin Engine can be recharged from a 230V/6A, 10A or 16A fuse power outlet. Recharging time varies with amperage. A full charge with 10A takes 4.5 hours. This is cut to 3.5 hours with 16A, while a 6A charge takes 7.5 hours.

According to Volvo, the S60L PPHEV Concept Car featured the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid, which is sold mostly in European markets. The S60L has a crankshaft-driven ISG (Integrated Starter Generator) between the engine and the eight-speed Aisin Warner automatic gearbox and a 68hp electric motor. The latter is powered by a 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

The S60L PPHEV Concept Car could be recharged from an ordinary power outlet (230V/6A to 16A fuse). The recharging time varied with the amperage. A full charge with 10A was said to take 4.5 hours, while a 16A charge took it down to 4.0 hours.

Another existing PHEV model is the diesel-electric V60 Twin Engine. This is sold mainly in Europe. Volvo Cars announced initial details of the 'D6' in June 2009. A prototype was then revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2011. This plug-in hybrid version of the V60 was launched in Europe in late 2012.

The front wheels are powered by a 2,400cc five-cylinder diesel, which originally produced a claimed 215hp and maximum torque of 440Nm. The rear axle is driven by an an electric motor producing 70 horsepower, which receives its power from a 12kWh lithium-ion battery pack. For Volvo's model year 2016, the car was renamed V60 D6 Twin Engine and the power of the diesel rose to 220hp. The output of the motor remains as 70hp.

Volvo began building the V60 D6 in November 2012 but a facelifted car was then launched at the Geneva motor show in March 2013. It went on sale across Europe three months later. An additional variant, the V60 D5 Twin Engine, debuted at the Geneva motor show in March 2015. This has a 163hp engine with a torque output of 420Nm (outputs for the V60 D6 Twin Engine are 220hp and 440Nm).

There should be a Twin Engine version of the new XC60 later in 2017. As the five-cylinder engine which powers the V60 D5 Twin Engine and V60 D6 Twin Engine is to be phased out, the future XC60 Twin Engine is likely to be offered with a petrol-electric powertrain only. The same should apply for a PHEV version of the future S60.

A plug-in hybrid version of the second generation XC90 would be the most expensive derivative, Volvo Cars stated in October 2013. It has a petrol-electric powertrain and this is one of the firm's 2.0-litre Drive-E engines. The compact size means an electric motor can be fitted in the front or rear of the vehicle. The battery pack is located in the centre of the car.

The all-wheel drive seven seater would offer up to 400 horsepower but with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60g/km (NEDC driving cycle), Volvo announced in July 2014. This was updated in April 2015 when the company revealed the following statistics: 49g/km CO2, combined 407 hp (320hp + 87hp), 640Nm (400Nm + 240Nm), 2.1 l/100km and 43km pure electric range. Production commenced that month, with the first deliveries following from May (2015). Cars for North America would be in dealerships for deliveries from "the fall", VCNA told the media in April 2015.

The XC90 Twin Engine also carries a 'T8' badge. It can be a plug-in EV, hybrid, or high-performance SUV. Normal driving is conducted in the default hybrid mode. This utilises a 1,969cc, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine which powers the front wheels and an 87hp electric motor which drives the rear axle. Volvo claims that the supercharger fills in the bottom end of the power range to give the engine a big, naturally-aspirated feel, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up. The electric motor on the rear wheels provides immediate torque.

By pressing a button, the driver can switch to emission-free city driving on electric power and then, when needed, immediately revert to the combined capacity of the petrol engine and electric motor. Volvo has not ruled out a future diesel-electric version of the XC90 but neither has it announced any intention to add such a powertrain.

As for a fully electric model, Volvo confirmed in October 2015 that it will introduce such a vehicle "by 2019". It is thought to be based upon V426, the next XC60, especially as the project code is said to be E426. It could be a plug-in, restyled, XC60, perhaps longer and with seven seats. This vehicle will reportedly be able to support battery packs of up to 100kWh in capacity.

The EV's model name is not known but it could be e-XC70 or e-XC80. Making it an '80' vehicle would be a logical way to justify the development costs: by pricing it at a high level, if not quite as high as the larger Audi e-tron quattro, another battery-electric crossover.

As well as developing a SPA-based EV, the Swedish OEM is also said to be working on an electric vehicle which uses CMA. This would likely be released in selected markets during 2020 or later. There is, however, a chance that such a model will come sooner than that and be based on the future XC40, S40 or V40.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans is available in PLDB from QUBE.