The new 40.1 concept (pictured above) teases a new compact SUV to be called XC40 and the 40.2 concept is a compact saloon to rival the Audi A3 Saloon: small four-door cars are very popular in key markets such as China.
Volvo’s current entry-level SUV is the XC60 – and that too is one of its best sellers, suggesting the XC40 could draw strong sales. Volvo itself considers it a “large and lucrative global market for premium small cars,” of which SUVs are currently the most lucrative of all.
The new Volvos are built around an all-new platform called Volvo Compact Modular Architecture, or CMA. This will complement the big-car platform its upscale cars are based upon: that’s called SPA. Using Volvo’s own common architecture, rather than today’s Ford-derived underpinnings, will allow the firm to produce many more variants, something it considers a big opportunity.
“Each member of our product family has its own distinct character, just like the members of a real family,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.
“CMA has helped us to capture something special, something youthful in our new concept cars. They have an energy, a disruptive and engaging urban character that makes them stand out among the crowd. This is the flavour of small Volvos to come.”
The technology will allow Volvo to introduce both a pure EV battery-powered version and a plug-in hybrid called Twin Engine (driving the front wheels and combining a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an electric motor). There will also be a larger Volvo pure EV by 2019.
It’s got ambitious targets for them: Volvo wants to have sold one million electrified cars by 2025.
Indeed, Volvo has ambitious targets for the 40-series cars in general: within four years, it wants to be fully competitive with rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, all of whom have comprehensive small car ranges. “The new 40 series cars have the potential to improve our market penetration in an important growing segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars, with understatement.
The first of the new 40-series cars will go into production in 2017: expect to see it in full at the 2016 Paris Motor Show later this year.
Video: Volvo’s new small car range for 2017