Volvo is poised to press the green light on a complete re-think of its model range in a last-ditch attempt to break out of a decade-long sales gridlock.A new range of models that centres around the ‘V and XC badges’ – models that already account for 60-70 percent of production - is currently being finalised at Volvo’s HQ. So buyers can expect a big push on versatile estates and rugged off-road-style vehicles.There’ll be fewer saloon models in Volvo’s future, too. Longer-term, a very small Volvo ‘city car’ and an electrically driven hatchback are also on the Gothenburg radar, as is a large ‘V100’ flagship that could step in for the S80.
Volvo goes after the Audi A3 Sportback
The key model to Volvo's resurgence will be the new V30, as imagined in our artists impression above. This will be a spacious five-door hatchback designed to attract a global market of younger, more affluent buyers who have young families but retain a keen interested in outdoor activities.This car will be aimed at drivers who might otherwise look at the Audi A3 or VW Golf, but it'll be a more sophisticated and modernist take on the conventional family hatchback.Hints from company bosses suggest the V30 may have a higher and longer roofline than, say, the Audi A3 Sportback, as well as being equipped with the sort of flexible interior package that is more usually found inside a conventional mini-MPV. Sources say the final result could be something pitched between the Audi and a Ford Focus C-Max.The V30 will be based on a moderately updated version of the excellent Focus-family chassisand is also likely to come in an XC version with a raised ride height, four-wheel drive and rugged body styling. It will slots into the range above the three-door C30 in 2010. Despite widespread rumours, Autocar understands there will be no five-door version of the C30.The V30 will effectively replace both the S40 saloon and V50 estate in the Golf-size market. Sales of the somewhat confined S40 are slowing as the European market for small saloons vanishes. The V50 is also on the small side for an estate in this class, so Volvo plans to push the nameplate up a size. The new 2010 V50 will marginally bigger than today’s BMW 3-series Touring but marginally smaller than the next-generation Volvo S60.
Can Volvo do it this time?
Despite its best efforts, the Swedish car-maker has failed to take full advantage of the boom in premium car sales over the last 15 years.In 1997 the company sold 400,000 cars, and after peaking at 450,000 in 2004, sales have again drifted back down to below 430,000 units. Rumours are rife that the company’s profitability is also sliding away.Company bosses are still aiming for 600,000 annual sales, a target that will be made much easier with the launch of the XC60 compact off-roader later this year.However, despite its rapid design evolution Volvo is finding that it is still strongly associated with its classic square-cut estates from over two decades ago. Modernising the brand and capturing new customers is proving much more difficult than anticipated.Volvo’s new pitch at environmentally conscious, family orientated outdoors enthusiasts simply has to work.