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October 18, 2004

SWEDEN: Volvo to enter three new model segments

As part of its goal to reach 600,000 global annual sales, Volvo wants to expand into three new segments, Automotive News Europe said.

By bcusack

As part of its goal to reach 600,000 global annual sales, Volvo wants to expand into three new segments, Automotive News Europe said.

The new products will be spread above, below and in the middle of its present price range.

The three vehicles are a sedan-wagon crossover placed above the S80 and V70, based loosely on the V90 concept car; a car-based SUV derived from the S40 and V50 platform, similar to the BMW X3, and a small hatchback-wagon sized below the V50, similar to the Audi A3.

Volvo CEO Hans-Olov Olsson believes the line-up expansion will help boost Volvo’s brand closer to luxury brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

“We are going to outperform the Germans and Japanese,” Olsson boldly predicted.

At the top of the range, a large people-carrying crossover between a V70 and S80 is being examined, said Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo Car senior vice president for product and business strategy. But a duplicate of the V90 concept wagon is unlikely, because of its sheer size.

Another hot segment: small car-based SUVs. Kerssemakers said designers are still quibbling over “whether we make it a sport wagon like an Alfa 156, or a real SUV like an XC90.”

Kerssemakers said Volvo has been working with Land Rover to share the architecture of such a vehicle, but that is proving awkward.

“Land Rover is off-road focused with on-road capability, while Volvo is on-road focused with off-road capability,” Kerssemakers said.

At the bottom of the product line-up could be a vehicle smaller than the S40 or V50. It could be a hatchback, a wagon, or a cross between the two.

The products have not received final approval. But Volvo executives say they are under serious consideration, although they did not discuss projected timing or volume targets for the proposed vehicles. But Volvo wants to grow to 600,000 annual sales by the end of the decade.

This year, Volvo should sell about 450,000 units globally, which would be a record.

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