Work on the all-new platform that will underpin Volvo’s future range of compact cars - including a replacement for the V40 - is well under way with parent company Geely at a new research facility in Gothenburg, Sweden, according to Volvo’s research and development boss, Peter Mertens.
The new architecture is dubbed CMA. Mertens said the development work was especially challenging because the new ‘tool box’ of component sets and structural sub-assemblies would have to be versatile enough to form the basis of models in both mainstream and premium sectors.
“We have to cover everything from the mass market to an Audi A3 rival with CMA. Volkswagen’s MQB is doing something similar, but we have to push hard to ensure that we can have greater differentiation [between Geely and Volvo models],” he said.
The architecture will also underpin a compact crossover, likely to be badged XC40. Mertens said the CMA platform will be vital in helping to reduce Volvo’s corporate fuel economy average, because the Swedes are hoping to expand significantly in the premium compact market. Currently, Volvo achieves about 110,000 sales annually for the V40 and V40 Cross Country.
Mertens, who said he is “deeply involved” in the CMA architecture, has form in this tricky area. He led the platform design work on the General Motors structure that was used globally to underpin cars at different price levels and aimed at different markets, including the Vauxhall Astra, upmarket Buick Verano and budget Chevrolet Cruze.
Early last year, it was confirmed that Geely was working on a new family of small premium cars which included a replacement for the V40. The project will yield a range of similarly sized models for Geely, which sells a variety of brands in China.