Ceiling Limited: Volvo Renewal Plan Puts Convertibles, Coupes On Hiatus

September 3, 2014

Where are the two-door models in Volvo’s lineup? With the sporty C30 hatchback and luxurious C70 convertible now both gone from the lineup, it’s a question that anyone familiar with the brand is bound to ask, come trade-in time.

But as Peter Mertens, Volvo Cars’ R&D chief, hinted this past week at a roundtable with members of the motoring press just after the reveal of the new 2016 Volvo XC90, a new generation of coupes and convertibles are still maybe five years out.

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That might seem a bit surprising, considering that when Volvo decided to reveal its new design direction in a series of well-received concept cars this past year, a stunning Concept Coupe was the first shown.

Concept Coupe showcased the potential in Volvo’s renewal

In retrospect, it was quite a teaser. The automaker launched its series of concepts with that one, Mertens said, in order to show the bandwidth of its new scalable platform architecture (SPA) underpinnings -- and that the potential is there for some very nice coupe proportions.

“It’s possible to put this beautiful proportion and style, and dramatic design, on that architecture, on a coupe -- as well as on a super-proportion, beautifully styled, dramatic SUV,” said Mertens, who pointed out that they have flexibility in width, unlike some other automakers’ flexible platforms. “And that is a strength, and something that is unique.”

Volvo Concept Coupe, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

Volvo Concept Coupe, 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show

Volvo is in the midst of a radical renewal of its entire product line, but sedans, wagons, and crossovers come first. The automaker is referring to that as its core ‘3x3 matrix’ -- consisting of the compact 40, mid-size 60, and large 90 series, with S (sedan), V (wagon), and XC (crossover) versions of each.

The first of this new generation, built on a newly developed scalable product architecture, is the 2016 Volvo XC90 revealed this past week and going on sale next spring. An all-new S90 flagship will follow closely, for the 2016 or 2017 model year, and then a revamped S60, with wagon and crossover variants, could arrive by 2018.

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The final step of this core renewal is a full redo of the 40-Series models -- this time, all of them, including a small XC40 crossover -- destined for the U.S. These models won’t be built on the SPA underpinnings of the larger cars, but instead a compact modular architecture (CMA) that will be developed by Volvo but shared with Geely. It’s still at least four years out, Mertens hinted, based on product-cycle timing.

And those coupes and convertibles are slated to launch shortly after that.

Company turnaround first, then coupes and convertibles

The reason for such a staggered release of new models, despite the infusion of investment from parent company Geely Holding of China, is that Volvo is simply too small to diversify its lineup before seeing a complete redo of those core products.

“You will see coupes and convertibles once we have finished the turnaround of this company and the renewal of our 3x3 matrix,” said Mertens. “That’s the core business; we need to do that first.”

So if you’re holding out for a new C70, or any new Volvo with two doors, save it for next time you trade in. And we bet they’ll have something very attractive for, say, the 2020 model year.


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