By on November 6, 2010

Australian Caradvice has the riveting story of (Geely-owned) Volvo discontinuing plans of  a large S-Class type sedan that could mix it up with the likes of the Audi A8, the BMW 7er, and of course the Mercedes S-Class, all very much in favor amongst the Chinese rich and not so famous. Cardadvice makes it a fight between Geely CEO Li Shufu, who wanted the big Volvo, and his new hire Stefan Jacoby, whom he had snatched from VWoA to run Volvo, and who doesn’t want a big Volvo. The truth is elsewhere.

Jacoby told Automotive News in an email: “Mr. Shufu expressed a vision of where he would like Volvo to be in the future, and that vision includes a 7 Series and S-Class rival. However, short or mid-term, Volvo Cars does not have such a model in the product plan.” So there.

Cardavice rightly says: “Does Volvo really need a larger sedan though?” No, they don’t. The plans had grown on a proposed Chinese law that would shift a large chunk of cars bought by the government to home-grown brands. This would have been Volvo’s big opening. No more stretched A6, Chinese for “here comes a bigwig.”  But as so often, proposed Chinese rules are being discussed in public and in the media, and if they don’t receive traction, they are shelved.  (It’s an odd kind of democracy, but it is quite effective.) The bigwigs are not giving up their Benzes (made in joint venture with Beijing). The big joint ventures are all government-owned anyway, only BMW’s partner Brilliance is sort of private. Geely is private. Both Shufu and Jacoby made the right decision: It’s not worth it.

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12 Comments on “Why Volvo Won’t Build A Big Volvo...”


  • avatar
    Dimwit

    And another thing, Volvo doesn’t have a platform that would support it. Sure you could “stretch” an existing platform, but there’s no guarantee that would be any good and does Geely have the expertise to do it? Hell, does Volvo anymore? Ford did a ton of brain drain out of the place.

  • avatar
    rjones

    I doubt anyone comparing the S-class, 7-series or A8 would give any consideration to a FWD or haldex AWD transverse-engine Volvo.

    • 0 avatar
      carsinamerica

      The A8 is a front-wheel drive car at heart (at least the 04-10 version was). The V6-powered cars are sold with FWD in Europe and other markets. Quattro is optional until you get eight cylinders. Given that, a Volvo with an FWD-derived AWD system is not so absurd.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I would say that the share of government car sales should not be the end all for the justification to build a high end Volvo in China.

    I have spoke with many Mercs, BMW, and Audi owners in China.  Very few understood the driving dynamics of their vehicle.    It was more about prestige, luxury, and interior. Most were business owners and have someone assigned to drive so the owner doesn’t need to worry about parking and the like. 

    So take an old playbook page from Ford when they used the Thunderbird platform to create the Lincoln Mark III.  (although not stretched)
    Stretch a Volvo FWD platform for a special “China only” Volvo.  It can be done on the cheap.
    You have the Ford/Volvo parts bin to pick from.  Price it just under the other players in this segment.   

    Here are a few key ingredients:
    1.  Completely new designed 4 door fastback body.  Long & low to break from the present slab sided gangsta look.    Take inspiration from the recent Citroen concept and mix in the Volvo 1800 ES styling cues.   Throw out any pedestrian front end safety shape in the design.  (sorry, kills design options) 
    2.  Stretch the car and have a full console with 4 matching luxurious seats. It should also have a special overhead console that mirrors the lower center console design.    The hood could have a slight center bulge and this would extend through the roof line to accentuate the upper console.  It would then have a sunroof on each side.   
    3.  The body needs many items detailed.  Extra LED lights, chrome, vents, etc.  Think opera lights, but don’t think vinyl tops! 
    4.  Every China car needs a crest & logo in the ‘C’ pillar!     

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Being a fullsize sedan shopper, having a midsize sedan as a flagship is brand suicide. The Acura RL, Cadillac STS, Infiniti M, Volvo S80 (and at one point Hyundai Genesis) have the misfortune of being too small to be taken seriously by luxury car buyers, and at the same time too large to be considered by sport sedan buyers.

    Hyundai’s done the right thing by positioning an even bigger car above Genesis, with no pretense of sport. I sorely miss the Q45, but I’m probably the only one.

    A long wheel base version would be an acceptable interim solution for the above car models IMO, though there’s no precedence of how it would sell in the US market. The chinese seems to have demand though.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    They could take their cue from Audi and BMW and just knock up a long wheelbase S80. Audi builds an A6L and BMW builds the 530Li e.a. Both are unique to the Chinese market and not offered elsewhere in the world. Go figure.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I guess one can get away in Middle Kingdom by making the body 2x bigger & longer , stuff her with Connolly Hide, wilton carpet, West of Engrish cloth, cushy seats. Dont worry about zero to 60 it doesnt matter, those are reserved for the lambos anyways.
    As one dude says most of these cars are chauffeur driven so it doesnt matter if the car can corner at 120 as long as it can glide along on May or Oct 1st without stalling the car. EV/hybrid  propelled is not an issue either as its not going to generate more noises so the bosses can sign K and fondle the sexy secs in absolute tranquility & undivided attention.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    BMW builds the 530Li e.a. Both are unique to the Chinese market and not offered elsewhere in the world. Go figure.

    yrs ago circa 70s Merc build stretched 220, 230 limos for Hk market, I think they sell in home eu market.
    There were even 260 powered w126 body in HK too. As they dont need the stump pulling 5 litre engine but a smaller eng with big body will do.
    Probably they can charge as much for the big eng and subs with smaller eng.

    Just a reverse process here with big eng stuffed in a smaller body. IE C63

  • avatar
    Paul W

    You guys are aware that Volvo DOES sell a stretched version in China, right? The S80L. From what I’ve pasted together reading different reviews, it’s pretty crappy compared to the original, especially the interior.

  • avatar

    Volvo never stood for “luxury”, to begin with. And to enter a pretty crowded market segment without having a decent platform (given the competition) seems to be very risky for a recovering company like Volvo.
    BTW: If you look at saturated markets (e.g., in Europe) you will find out that “large luxury sedans” are a dwindling market segment.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    “Li” is his last name.  “Shufu” is his first name.


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