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XC60 to see Volvo through tough times

Gaining traction: The Volvo expects its XC60 to grow sales volumes for the Swedish brand in Australia.

Volvo to build on momentum with new models and advanced technologies

25 Mar 2009

VOLVO is expecting to consolidate its annual volumes and even grow sales in Australia over the next 18 months on the back of key new models featuring progressive safety and improved efficiency technology.

The recently-launched XC60 encapsulates some of these with its world-first City Safety low-speed impact avoidance/reduction technology.

City Safety will be introduced in all future new-generation Volvo passenger cars and SUVs, although whether it would be standardised on every model and variant as in the XC60 is not yet known.

The XC60 also propels the Swedes into new territory, against the established BMW X3 in the growing compact luxury SUV segment, in which it aims to sell between 80 and 100 units a month. Last year, 1233 X3s found homes in Australia.

And while some sales cannibalisation within the range is expected, Volvo believes it will ultimately usher new customers into the fold.

Volvo Cars Australia managing director Alan Desselss said: “I think it would be wrong for us not to expect some cross-purchasing.

“But I think the XC60 will attract a lot more people to the brand … particularly for people who would have thought that an XC90 is too large for them.” A next-generation diesel engine – promising far-greater efficiency than the ageing D5 unit that is expected to account for about half of all XC60s sold this year – is earmarked for release across the Volvo range from 2010.

18 center imageFrom top: Volvo C3 DRIVe Volvo S60 concept Volvo XC90.

The heavily revised 2.4-litre D5 keeps the old in-line five-cylinder layout, but introduces twin turbochargers and piezo electric fuel injectors for markedly improved performance, refinement and emissions control.

It is expected to debut in next year’s revised S80 range, where this Euro V-emissions-rated powerplant delivers 153kW of power, 420Nm of torque, 6.7L/100km and 164g/km of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to the equivalent S80 D5’s 136kW, 400Nm, 7.2L/100km and 193g/km.

Volvo will ‘go green’ before then, however, with the C30 DRIVe from October.

A dedicated reduced emissions vehicle, it will introduce an all-new 80kW/240Nm 1.6-litre common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit (co-devised with Ford and Peugeot/Citroen and also featuring in the upcoming BMW Mini Cooper D diesel).

Bolstering its credentials as a DRIVe designated eco-brand within Volvo, the C30 DRIVe also brings modified engine cooling and transmission oil, altered power steering and engine management systems and a gear-change indicator, to help drivers achieve more frugal driving techniques.

Improved aerodynamics result from a 10mm reduced ride height compared to regular C30 models, as do the revised grille, air dam, wheels and underbody treatments, special wind deflectors ahead of the front wheels, and a different rear spoiler and bumper, for a fuel consumption average of about 4.4L/100km and 115g/km of CO2.

According to Mr Desselss, the success or otherwise of the C30 DRIVe in Australia will determine if the company decides to import the S40 and V50 eco versions alongside it, as well as the range of ethanol-fuel alternatives available on some Volvo models in other countries.

“We’re going to put our toe in the water, so to speak,” he told GoAuto.

“The beauty of (DRIVe) is that we can put on extra cars on S40 and V50, as well as on ethanol cars if that ever happens (in Australia). In Europe, we have a vast range of ethanol cars and ethanol engines that we can draw upon, if we had E85 available, a good supply and good logistics. There are a lot of options that we could go to.” It remains to be seen if the long-awaited second-generation production version of the S60 Concept car that wowed Detroit at the North American International Auto Show last month will arrive with the show car’s DRIVe direct-injection petrol engine.

Also 1.6-litre, this all-new Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection (GTDi) engine will be introduced in another Volvo model first in Europe this year, where it can deliver 134kW of power, average 5L/100km and achieve 119g/km of CO2.

Mr Desselss’ team is working on introducing the GTDi engine as an option on Australian-bound Volvos as soon as possible.

“We are working at getting more fuel efficient engines available across the board,” he said.

Meanwhile, Volvo is reportedly preparing another facelift for the ageing XC90 next year, as an all-new model is not pencilled in until about 2012. This will mark the 10th anniversary of the full-sized seven-seater SUV’s debut at the North American International Auto Show in January 2002.

The early 2010s should also see the next-generation S40/V50 replacement surface.

However, Volvo is believed to be downsizing the range to just a single, five-door hatchback model that represents a radical departure from today’s 2004-vintage S40 four-door sedan and V50 wagon configurations. Due out in around 2011, it may even adopt the ‘V30’ moniker.

Volvo will stick with a derivation of Ford’s C1 C-segment platform for this model, regardless of who ends up buying the company from the Ford Motor Company, with Mr Desselss believing that there should be no interruption to future model plans.

“The product line-up and product development is still powering along.

“I think that is one of the good things we get out of Ford. Ford very clearly did support some stuff, and in return got a lot of information from our technical centre. I think that will continue for quite a while, and I think it will help Volvo stand in good stead in terms of product line-up and product succession and so on.” Mr Desselss is confident that Volvo has the right product for it to ride out the current sales downturn in Australia in the longer term.

“We would like to see some growth as a result of the XC60.

“But I think the other ranges will contract slightly with the market. We are in exciting times right now.

“We just have to keep focussed and keep on delivering. In Australia, we have grown our market about 58 per cent since 2006, and that is good for us, for Australia to be recognised by the parent company as a more substantial subsidiary than when we were selling just 2000 cars.

“It’s good, it’s all on the move, and it’s all positive at the moment. But we have to need to make sure that we get a ride on that momentum.

“The XC60 I think will do a lot of that for us, as well as other products that are coming through.”

Read more:

First drive: Life begins at XC60

Volvo unveils next-generation S60

Volvo ready for E85 in Oz


The Road to Recovery podcast series


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