Small SUV will supplement Volvos redesigned XC90 on sale early in 2015

Small SUV will supplement Volvo's redesigned XC90 on sale early in 2015

Volvo will expand its range of SUVs to three within the next four years with the introduction of an XC40 based on its next-generation compact-car architecture.

The smaller SUV will supplement the new seven-seater XC90, which is due to go into production in the second quarter of 2015, and the eventual replacement for the mid-sized XC60. Both of those cars will be based on Volvo's new Scaleable Product Architecture (SPA), which will in time form the basis of 75% of the company's product portfolio. The XC90 is the first car to come off the SPA platform.

Hinting at the plan to introduce an XC40, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said: "We are a bit sceptical about adding body sizes because it also adds complexity, but the market is appreciating SUVs more and more, so it is logical for us to think about a smaller model. It is on our wish list for the smaller platform."

The architecture to support it is currently being developed with Volvo's owner, Geely, and will be used for the Swedes' next compact model range as well as a number of cars from the Chinese manufacturer.

For a company which once spurned SUVs because of fears about their stability and safety, Volvo has had a major change of heart. This year its global SUV sales are just shy of 140,000 - almost a third of its projected total of 465,000 - with the XC60 hitting a record of 122,500. Even the 13-year-old XC90 has attracted 17,000 buyers. "SUVs are now our bread-and-butter type of car," said Samuelsson.

First-year production for the new XC90 is expected to total 50,000, with a third of output going to the US. Samuelsson expects this year's 10% growth in overall sales to be maintained into 2015, taking Volvo over the 500,000 mark, and for this to continue expanding to around 800,000 by 2020, including 200,000 SUVs.

This will be without adding significantly to the number of body styles. "Our first priority is to develop new models for our four segments," Samuelsson said. "After that we can discuss adding new body sizes."

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