New Volvo SUVs: bigger and smaller XC models in pipeline
Volvo SUV range set to grow with flagship XC100 and entry-level sub-XC40 on the radar. Our exclusive images preview how they could look
The Swedish marque posted record sales volumes of more than 340,000 vehicles during the first half of 2019, helped by the addition of its smallest current SUV, the XC40. This was despite profits taking a slight hit due to tariffs and tighter margins in declining markets.
Now Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson has admitted that the firm may consider adding further types of car to its line-up. He told Auto Express: “Our strategy has been growth, but not through adding pure volumes. We have been going in hard and being better in segments where we have a really strong offering. That is the basic assumption. And now we also have the production capacity to grow this company.
“But we are not excluding the idea of additions, especially in very core segments, like the SUV. I think we are looking into this possibility now. You should not exclude the idea that there might be a bigger one, but maybe also a smaller one. We will surprise you about that in the future.”
There are a couple of key developments that make either of these new model segments possible for Volvo. The smaller model is being made feasible by the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in small-car specialist Smart by Volvo’s owner, Geely.
Bringing an additional brand to the group allows shared development costs as Volvo tries to downsize the CMA platform to support a vehicle that’s likely to be around four metres in length, the same as the likes of the Audi Q2 and MINI Countryman. It’s very likely to be offered only as a pure-electric car, as previewed in our exclusive images.
Samuelsson first admitted to Auto Express in the spring that a new baby Volvo could happen – particularly if the firm manages to develop its CareByVolvo subscription model, which would potentially allow it to lease a small, urban-focused EV at a sustainable profit, instead of having to compete at traditional price points for that size of model.
“We took one step down with XC40, which is our smallest SUV,” he said. “We have a very strong line-up of SUVs. So never say never. There’s a trend now that premiumness is more and more decoupled from size. Small cars can also be premium. Just because you have a small suit, it doesn’t have to be polyester.”
The badge for the smaller SUV remains unclear, but Volvo has maintained dormant trademarks for XC10, XC20 and XC30 for almost 20 years. It has also registered XC50, a name that could be used for a derivative of either the XC40 or, conceivably, the XC60.
Higher up the range, it seems likely that Volvo’s next-generation flagship will be called XC100 when it arrives in around 2022. It is a possibility because the firm is developing the second generation of its larger-car platform, called SPA2. The present architecture, SPA, underpins all ‘60’ and ‘90’-series models, but it’s unable to go much larger than the current XC90.
Auto Express understands that SPA2 will be engineered to support vehicles up to 5.5 metres long. And crucially, the third Polestar model, a huge pure-electric SUV, will use the same underpinnings. This development will allow Volvo to exploit economies of scale and make a big seven-seater.
The new vehicle, previewed bottom, right, is already said to have the internal project code V616, denoting ‘6’ for the largest size in Volvo’s range, ‘1’ for the first generation of the vehicle and ‘6’ for the SUV body style. It’s said to be around 30cm longer than the current XC90 and slightly lengthier than even the BMW X7, at 5.2 metres. This gain will be shared between the wheelbase – improving second-row legroom – and the rear overhang, improving the seven-seat functionality and boot capacity.
The XC100 is likely to feature a mixture of higher-end powertrains from the manufacturer’s line-up, with entry-level editions using a high-powered petrol-based mild-hybrid set-up, and alternatives available with both plug-in hybrid and pure-electric configurations.
The new flagship SUV has been made possible not only by buyer trends in key markets, including the United States and China, but also by Volvo’s improved brand strength. This will support a new high point in the firm’s pricing strategy, because when equipped with more expensive powertrains, the XC100 could well cost more than £80,000.
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