Work on a new family of baby Volvos is under way following the opening of the new China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) operation in Sweden.
It describes itself as an “engineering and development centre for future C-segment cars, addressing the needs of Volvo Cars and Geely Auto”.
Based in Gothenburg, CEVT is owned by Volvo’s parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
The CEO of the new company is Mats Fagerhag, who was the lead engineer for the defunct Phoenix platform, which was intended to underpin a new family of Saabs.
CEVT says the new facility will be capable of engineering a whole vehicle, including the underlying architecture, powertrain and transmission, upper body engineering and exterior design.
This new C-segment architecture will be used for new Geely models - including models that will be sold in Europe - and the replacement for the Volvo V40 and the proposed XC40 compact SUV.
Because these vehicles will span a wide price and content range, the architecture will use an unusual philosophy based around ‘common interfaces’.
The technique was pioneered by truck maker Scania, which was also advising Fagerhag on the technique when he was developing Phoenix.
CEVT calls this technique “modular technology”. Firstly, the base structure will be scalable in its length, width, height, wheelbase and wheel size. Secondly, in order to build cars at widely differing price points, whole modules can be produced to meet “different performance steps”.
For example, a front-end module (which includes the front suspension and steering system) that can be specified with “different performance levels for handling, noise and vibrations” will be developed for the platform.
Another example is the way the new heating and ventilation system will be developed. The new climate control system will be technologically scalable so that it can be produced in manual and automatic versions, with one or several temperature zones as well as having different levels of air quality filters.
The CEVT plan should allow a wide range of model types to be constructed from this modular toolkit. It should also make it quicker andeasier to add new technology to the base architecture, as well as developing new model variants.
According to the jobs currently available at CEVT, a hybrid powertrain will be part of the new architecture, as well as mechanical all-wheel drive.
It seems likely that the hybrid will use an electrified rear axle, a technology that Fagerhag was working on for the Phoenix project.
Volvo has already announced that this new vehicle architecture will be used for the successor to the V40, which is currently based on a modified Ford EUCD platform. It will also spawn an XC40 compact SUV.
Geely has yet to say which type of vehicles it will produce using this architecture, but they will be aimed at both the European and Chinese domestic markets. Any new models are likely to be at least two and a half years away from appearing in showrooms.