Volvo’s head of R&D, Henrik Green, said: “It’s not a problem to have an XC20,” given that the car maker has both the platform hardware and the engines to suit a model pitched against the Q2.
“The CMA platform can be made smaller,” said Green of the new Compact Modular Architecture small car platform that the company is codeveloping with Geely for the XC40, the next-generation V40 and sister brand Lynk&Co.
Speaking at a preview event for the new XC60 SUV in Sweden last week, Green said that although the hatchback C-segment in which the V40 competes continues to be the largest in Europe, the boom in the sales of SUVs and crossovers looks like continuing and is being closely watched by the manufacturer.
Sales of small SUVs are expected to exceed two million by 2018, according to forecaster LMC Automotive, having reached 1.4 million sales last year.
Most of these models are from mainstream volume manufacturers such as Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, and Suzuki. Audi’s recently launched Q2 is the only premium model in the segment, potentially indicating a major opportunity for Volvo.
Green said it’s “much easier to reduce the CMA platform’s length than it is its width”. Length is the more critical dimension in terms of the car being perceived as a small SUV, and the additional width probably won’t matter from a styling perspective. However, the extra weight and aerodynamic frontal area could slightly compromise the car’s performance and economy.
Besides having a broadly suitable platform, Volvo also has an appropriate range of powertrains. Its new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged version of the Drive-E four-cylinder engine is “almost ready”, said Green.
“It can go in any vehicle in the range (including the XC90), so it’s a marketing decision on which models to fit it to,” he said. The engine is reported to be capable of producing well over 150bhp in its most powerful form.
As well as offering petrol and diesel versions of the three-cylinder engine, Volvo is developing additional electrified drivetrains.
“We’re looking at broad solutions that are affordable,” said Green. Volvo’s aim is to put these technologies within reach of more buyers than is presently the case with the plug-in hybrid models Volvo offers today.
These and a growing range of SUVs should enable Volvo to get closer to the 800,000 annual sales that it’s targeting for 2020.
Last year it sold 534,000 cars worldwide, a rise of 6.2%. The sales momentum is likely to be maintained with the replacement of its biggest-selling XC60 this autumn and the XC40’s arrival next year.