Volvo: No to Minivans But Yes to Wagons and Crossovers

By: Glady Reign

Volvo is setting the spotlights ready and rolling the red carpet as it welcomes the newest wagons and crossovers into its stable. The new XC60 is scheduled to arrive in 2009 and by that time, the automaker is expecting to have a total of 5 wagons and crossovers in its lineup. But Volvo will not be stopping there since it intends to make further expansions.

The automaker is considering the idea on moving both upscale and downmarket from the existing lineup of the V50, V70, XC70, XC90 and XC60. This information was revealed by Volvo's top executives at the recently held North American International Auto Show. According to Steven Armstrong, Volvo Car Corp. COO, "Volvo is well-known for its versatility. We were producing crossovers before the term was even invented. There are still plenty of opportunities to fill in gaps with new things."

It should be noted that Volvo has created a luxury wagon concept which it presented at the 2003 Geneva Auto Show called the Versatility Concept Car. The said concept if it makes production will be renamed V90. The automaker is also studying the prospect of producing smaller sized crossovers---much smaller than the XC60 said Lex Kessermakers, Volvo Car Senior Vice President of Brand Business and Product Strategy. He also added, "If we were to further expand our model range, likely it would be in the V or XC range."

The XC60 concept was launched at the recent 2007 North American International Auto Show. The said vehicle will share the same Ford C1 platform technology with the Land Rover Freelander. The automaker said that the vehicle should never be confused with the XC50 which was the first name used for the XC60. The vehicle exudes brand new styling and design direction that represents future Volvo vehicles.

The size of the XC60 is likened to that of the BMW X3 or Acura RDX. It also possess outstanding features like the glass roof, a newly styles grille, new shifting mechanism, mechanical tail gate, a much larger Volvo symbol, and 20-inch rims. Armstrong said that the XC60 is a logical option for people who entered the Volvo brand with the C30 hatchback or S40 sedan. And as for the V90, Kerssemakers said it is "high on my wish list, but we have to be realistic. There's a limit to what a small organization can do."

Although Volvo is planning of expanding its wagons and crossovers lineup but it stresses that it will not venture into the minivans segment. According to Kerssemakers, "The XC90 is our seven-seat interpretation. We're happy with it. Our customers are happy with it." he also added that Volvo needs to ensure first that its current lineup is profitable before it venture into new arenas. "All those variants cost a lot of money. But it is easier to cancel or reduce volumes of a vehicle than to suddenly have to play catch-up."

Volvo has built several wagons and crossovers. And each of them has undergone rigid and meticulous engineering starting from the fitting of large car parts down to smallest details like the installation of . Volvo makes sure that everything is fitted perfectly.

Volvo's Brief History
Volvo was formed by Assar Gabrielsson, a businessman and Gustaf Larson, an engineer in 1927. For its first year of operation it has been able to sell 297 cars---all OV4 model which was based on an American design. The automaker's early creations possess conservative design and technology which resulted to its lack of global recognition.

The low cost of labor in Sweden has helped the automaker in growing gradually until it began exporting cars abroad particularly in America. Volvo later became the largest car maker in Sweden beating Saab which is a GM subsidiary there.

In the year 1947, Volvo had begun concentrating on medium price to luxurious cars until the arrival of the PV44 which is the automaker's first ever small car. Although it lacks in technology but the 4-cylinder car was aggressively priced. The PV444 was also the first mass produced car by Volvo which later resulted in 100,000 sales in nine years.

The next small car produced by Volvo was in the year 1956 and was called the Amazon or popularly known as 120 overseas. Almost 667,000 units were produced during its 14 years of existence. Volvo has started expanding from the late 50's to the 60's and as part of its expansion it has built a larger plant at Torslanda to produced its needed 200,000 cars.

Despite the larger plant the automaker has remained producing conservative products but excluding the P1800 sports car which was manufactured in 1961. The P1800 is powered by a 4-cylinder 1.8 liter engine and was assembled in the UK. It was the development of Volvo 144 which has helped the automaker to establish a reputation for safety. The 144 was provided with safety features that include disc brakes all round, 3-point safety belts, crumple zones front and rear, and a fail-safe dual-channel brake system.

The 240 series which was launched in 1974 is considered to be an important model of Volvo until late 80's. The 240 series was the first turbocharged Volvo and performed strong in motor racing. After the 240 series, came Volvo 760/740 series which became the automaker's flagship model. The design philosophy employed for the 760/740 series was applied today on the S80.

The PRV V6 engine of the S80 was developed jointly by PSA, Renault and Volvo. The relationship with Renault could have ended in a merger but unfortunately the whole deal broke down.

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