By on January 27, 2011

Volvo has come to the kind of conclusion we haven’t heard from an automaker in some time: it’s selling too many models. With nine models currently on the market, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker has opted to cut that number by “five or six” nameplates, and will rebuild its US lineup around its XC60 and XC90 crossovers, and S60 sedan. As a Volvo spokesman explains to Bloomberg

We have to focus on the key segments with significant volume potential.

The first model to go from the lineup will be the V50 station wagon, but from there it’s anyone’s guess. To help kick off the speculation, we present the graph above, charting the recent sales fortunes of the nameplates that Volvo is considering for death. Since the one model on the chart that has already been marked for death (the V50) has the lowest volume, it might be safe to guess that the next model up the volume ladder (C30) will be the next to die. From there, it’s a lot more complicated. Last year the S40 moved 5,623 units, the C70 sold 5,263 units, the XC70 sold 6,626 units and the S80 sold 7,724. In terms of sheer volume, there’s reason to kill every one of these nameplates… but strategically there’s just as much of an argument for investing in any one of them. Too bad there’s only marketing resources for “five or six” nameplates. So, which models would you kill?

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59 Comments on “Volvo To Slash US Lineup: Which Would You Kill?...”

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I’d kill ’em all.  I used to love Volvos.
    Now that they are Chinese, not so much.
    In fact…not at all.

    • 0 avatar

      Seconded.  Look at those sales numbers…Volvo is dead in the water.  They need a turnaround, and Chinese ownership is not something that is going to inspire new buyers.
      At this point, I’d rather take my chances with Saab.  At least they’re still going to offer a wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      I love it when TTAC commenters get it right on the first post!

  • avatar


    WHAT?  They’re going to build their line up around gas guzzling crossover SUVs?!?  Who do they think they are?  Detroit?!?!  Don’t they know gas is going to $5 a gallon and Americans want microcars that seat 2-1/2, have 65 HP, and get 70 MPG.  Get with the times man – SUV/crossovers are dead.


  • avatar

    I read this earlier today and I’m honestly not sure what to think of it.
    I’d say the V50 is gone, and perhaps the S40 and C30 as well (to be replaced, perhaps, by a more affordable “Golf” fighter that’s been proposed as well as a future XC30).
    I think the XC70 should be a keeper, however, because I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this kind of raised wagon picking up in the market in the relatively near future.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a very crowded market place for the XC70 though.. being sandwiched between XC90 and XC60 and possibly competing with V70 AWD must be extremely tough. 21MPG on highway doesn’t help.

  • avatar

    Both the C30 and V50 will find it hard to make a case for their continuing existence as Americans don’t much go for small wagons or premium hatchbacks. The S40 makes sense in the US market but is in desperate need of an update.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The C30 should shrink down a bit and be completely redone as a1800E successor.

      Volvo sold a lot of 1800s, and bringing them back would be great in the same way as the new mini and VW’s new beetle.

      Ad tagline: “We didn’t always sell bricks”

    • 0 avatar

      Volvo sold 8,077 P1800ES hatchbacks world wide. If you mean the various P1800 coupes, they sold 39,407 world wide over a span of a dozen years. The C30 has zero presence in the US market while selling in bigger numbers than the earlier Volvo sport coupes did here. Is 4,000 a year spread out over a bunch of markets what you meant when you said that Volvo sold a lot of 1800s? Today it wouldn’t  pay for development for a car that was going to sell for considerably less than $60,000. The target for the C30, closesly based on the S40/Focus/Mazda 3 platform, was 65,000 cars a year. I doubt they pulled it off, but that was the goal for a body style of one of the most mass-market cars in the world.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    With 6 models, Volvo should have:

    S40/V40 sedan & wagon (A4)
    S60/V60 sedan & wagon (A6)
    S80/S80S sedan & fastback (A8)

    XC50 CUV (Q5/RX 2-row)
    XC70 CUV (Q7 3-row)

    C20/C20S coupe & hatch (MINI, 1800E / 1800ES)

    The iconic Volvo is the venerable 240, so the S40 should be the core vehicle. Hence, also the car-based core. The C20 is because I have a soft spot for the 1800E.

    Audi labeling steps, as Volvo isn’t ready to go head-to-head with BMW.

    • 0 avatar

      Competing against Audi won’t help either…except maybe for those that have no use with quattro. You have over 10 models on your list, sedans and wagons are seperate models.

      Volvo used to offer well-built tanks in 2 sizes and 2-3 models each. They cost about as much as a similiar sized Oldsmobile or Mercury.

      I wish, like many, that I could buy something akin to our now-gone 1984 Volvo 760. Honestly, my Outback is as close as it will ever come. Well-built, not very powerful, safe, gets through anything.

      But like Ford did to Volvo, Toyota’s involvement with Subaru will lead to model bloat and common parts. Better for Toyota, not so much for Subaru fans.

      Volvo has a great new platform which underpins the XC60, S60, and V60. The XC90 is the oldest model, with the S40/V50/C30 following up close behind.

      Dump the small cars and large cars and all I-5 engines, keeping only the better sized S60, V60 or XC60. Let’s face it, the large Volvos just don’t sell very well…people in this price range are getting a German or Japanese car. Offer them with premium cloth or twead seating and nice light woods.

      Next thing to do is market them well, you’re only going to sell to a niche, so market the hell out of those folks. So what if Volvo is the equivalent to a Swedish Buick or a Swedish Subaru, there are buyers who will rethink and consider the Volvo (maybe even again).

      I know I would.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      A wagon is a separate model? Really? I always counted them as the same because the basic engineering is the same as the sedan.

      If we’re down to 6 body shells, that’s hardly anything at all.

      C20 & C20S coupe & hatch
      S40 & V40 sedan & wagon
      S80 sedan
      XC50 CUV

      Keep the iconic cars, and make them more iconic. Keep the big sedan, for China. Keep a RX-class CUV for the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Basic, yes. Complete, no.

      Take the graph above; split into 6 models but 2 platforms (or basic engineering).

      Volvo has no iconic cars, those ceased into 1996 with the S90/V90.

  • avatar

    The C30 is toast… my wife loves this car but its a rare as hen’s teeth. I think Volvo sells about 300 a month total in the US. However I’m shocked to learn they have a car that sells even LESS. Its a shame because the C30 is great package, it just didn’t catch on like the Mini.

  • avatar

    The S60 and the XC60 are the two core Volvos, basically the modern sedan and wagon versions of the 240.  Everything else should go.  Forget going head-to-head with BMW, Audi, etc.  Volvo should position itself in a class by itself by lowering prices and raising volume while maintaining content/quality.  The Chinese might be able to help.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. If they did pare it down to just those two models, they could offer a range of trim levels. Back in the early 80’s when the 240 was the only model sold in the US, you could get a base model with no power steering/windows/door locks, cloth seats etc. But you could also get a fully loaded turbo, with power everything and leather. And then you could decide between a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan and wagon.

      Saab did this too with the 900 (minus the wagon).

      I don’t see why they couldn’t offer an S60 with fewer options and cloth seats. Bring the wagon version over too, and offer the XC60 as well.

      As the owner of a 242, 855T and an 1800ES, I’d hate to see the c30 go.

      Maybe they should revert to a lineup similar to their offerings in the 60’s:

      -122 sedan and wagon (S60, V70, XC60)
      -1800 (c30)

  • avatar

    I’d just go with the XC60, XC90, and S60. Kill everything else. Leave open the possibility to bring over the new V60 or a S60 convertible if things start to improve.
    I question if any of this is going to matter though.

  • avatar

    I really think Volvo needs to get out of the ‘luxury’ segment and focus on making the kinds of reliable, safe, multi-purpose vehicles that helped to distinguished it from everything else in the first place. Such a plan may be boring relative to Audi or BMW and would likely condemn Volvo to being more of a niche market, but it would very likely be secure and self-sustaining in the long run.

    Unfortunately such a plan probably wouldn’t go over well with stockholders, so it’s about as likely to happen as hen’s teeth (which, by the way, is actually genetically possible given the shared heritage between birds and dinosaurs).

  • avatar

    A basic utilitarian gas sipper built for extreme reliability and usable if optioned properly as a delivery vehicle or La Raza la familia to haul their larger-than-average families.
    And for the growing number of working-poor to dwell within if/as needed.
    Designed for minimal maintenance and easy access to mechanicals and maintenance items.
    Ponder the Long March and be in the auto trek for the long-haul.
    Be a cohort to the masses.
    Show those capitalist roadists how Red the east is and that the yellow dog imperialists do consider the needs of those arduously struggling against their oppressors.
    Perhaps a few rebates to kick-start the new brand and perhaps some free A/C or, for those struggling to survive Frozen Chosin-like arctic blasts when using their MaoMobile for dwelling include or have an option for a plug-in quality block heater so that the proletariat dwelling in their mobile yurt can perhaps find a spot to park allowing the parker to plug in the extension cord and use that basic heat level to take the edge off the cold within.
    For a nominal fee install an extra battery pack and perhaps an inverter so that some basic utilitarian electrical goodies can be installed isolated from the battery used to start the MaoMobile.
    For the well-to-do or successful aluminum can collecting cadre some sort of cooling for hot weather that at least blows cooled (not cold) air upon our slumbering cadre when it is beastly hot outside to assist in needed sleep would be a boon.
    Enough headroom to facilitate basic living would be a blessing.
    So many possibilities!!!!!

  • avatar

    Which would I kill as a business decision? The XC70 and the V50; probably the C70 as well. As stated above, I would probably morph the C30 into a more viable GTI competitor. Give it 4 doors and more sport while improving efficiency. I’d foster the S60 range including the newly announced hybrid-wagon. I also see potential in a lighter, more sporty/fun, more efficient and less expensive S40.

    Which would I like to see killed as an auto-enthusiast? the XC90, XC60 and the S80. I’d love to see the C30 revamped as above; the S40 and V50 completely updated; and I like the V70 -but to make it more compelling, I’d like to see it offered with automatically adjustable ride-height like the old Audi Allroad (of course with a manual on offer as well). The C70 is not compelling except as a hairdresser’s car. Either dump it or turn it into something useful. Diesels and manuals across the board. My thoughts.

  • avatar

    I hope this doesn’t effect the Canadian market. The V50 is much more common than the S40 here, and I see about as many S40s as I do C30s. I really wouldn’t miss the S40, but the rest I would.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Volvo has been on a downhill slide since they abandoned the descendants of the 144. They can do what they wish. I am not going to buy it.

  • avatar

    The C30 is a sharp looking hatchback thing, but it has a piss poor interior for a Volvo. It really needs a leather option and some serious help in there.
    I’ve always been a fan of the V70-R, what a gorgeous interior and fun to drive! They’ve always held their value too much for me when I was in the market though so never ended up with one.

  • avatar

    The XC70 is the heart of their lineup.  Kill that and you’ve destroyed the Volvo brand.

  • avatar

    I have had Volvos for a long time, currently have an ’07 XC70, and plan to trade next year. But now that they are owned by the Communist Chinese I will not consider one again. Shame, because it has been a great car.

  • avatar

    Gotta agree on the xc70 you kill that and you kill the volvo brand in the north east, the vert should go, nice but really who needs it, they are gonna keep a SUV so I guess the xc90, the s60 and the xc70 should be their bread and butter, not sure they need a small volvo

  • avatar

    Gotta agree on the xc70 you kill that and you kill the volvo brand in the north east.
    I think Subaru has already done a good job of that.
    Anyway, I personally really like the XC70, but if Volvo is only selling 6626 of them (probably at a decent discount too) annually, is it really worth keeping it around?

    They are probably screwed no matter what they do.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    This is the beginning of the end of Volvo.

  • avatar

    Kill everything above and below the current S60. That whole C30/S40/V50 trio is way overpriced and too close to the S60. The replacement should be a more utilitarian product aimed at VW Jetta price levels. S60’s successor needs to be bigger, so you can build a Passat competitor out of it and gussy it up easily for a high-margin high-end version (think 160, 260, 760).
    I for one, welcome the new Chinese overlords. They have been talking about building more cars and going downmarket, instead of trying to be the poseur in the BMW/Audi crowd.

  • avatar

    WOW, yesterday I read a scathing article about Subaru, now today it’s Volvo.
    That pendulum has started swinging.

  • avatar

    Which would I kill?  Anything that is front wheel drive and doesn’t have a tight turn radius.
    Oh my…  Did I say that out loud?  THIS is awkward…
    Volvos used to be special because they were safe, great brakes, great seats, and had a tight turn radius.  Pretty much everything on the market now features the first two, a lot of cars have the third, but the fourth thing is rare.  And rear wheel drive… I’m wasting my breath.

  • avatar

    Bring back the 240! It’s the only thing that will save them.

  • avatar

    As nice as the C30 is, it’s a terrible value next to other small hatchbacks and subcompacts. The price of the C30 starts where a loaded Civic Si ends and it’s not hard to push it over $30,000. Not only that, the C30 suffers from poor resale value. It’s going to have to go.
    Volvo in general is sliding towards irrelevancy. The attempt to go upmarket has failed, the fact that most new cars are safe now has eliminated that advantage, and the quality doesn’t really match the better Japanese (and now Korean) competitors.

    • 0 avatar

      If bought anywhere near sticker I agree.
      I only paid $22,500 (new) for my 2008 C30 R-Design, a car that stickered for $30,210. I suppose that new car shoppers just don’t know that, and people researching online are put off by the steep published asking price. The used market seems to know, that’s for sure.
      I cross shopped the C30 against only the 2008 R32. Maybe it was simply that my expectations were too high on the R32, but in every way that mattered to me I like the C30 more than the R32. I drove two R32’s and the DSG just put me off. AWD would have been nice, but the $6K price different more than covered a set of X-Ice 2’s on some extra OEM rims.

  • avatar

    Volvos used to be special because they were safe, great brakes, great seats, and had a tight turn radius.

    All those, but no. 1 or 2 on the list should be they lasted forever.  The million mile Volvo club, the 90% (or whatever) % of Volvos ever sold are still on the road.  Now their reliability is average or worse.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    We have a 850 now.  We have also owned a 940 turbo.
    Volvo needs to build VOLVO’S.  Safe, reliable and not too much BS.  I like the new S60 a lot but its a few years out for me…the S80 is nice but lets be honest can Volvo compete in that market?  The Xc70 should stay as should the XC60.  The XC90?  Too big too expensive but hey if they sell them.
    The s40 has that Volvo feel but it costs way too much…gee what would Chinese parts and Mexican assembly do for a redesigned unit?  In that market diesel is/will be a must!  Why not a diesel hybrid?

  • avatar
    Sam P

    If you’re going to not buy a car manufactured by a division of a Chinese company, I wonder where that will leave you with personal electronic devices.

    • 0 avatar

      As a radio fan, it will be akin to buying a new Grundig…which is just a Redsun or Tecsun radio with inferior electronics inside.

      On the same hand, I’ve been buying Thinkpads for a long time (or work in a few cases) and those are now made by Lenovo. I don’t think the quality as gone down much but the newest one I have is a 3 year old T61 that still purrs nicely, but with a new solid state drive since it gets bumped around quite often in the backcountry.

      I still prefer Sony and Casio for most electronics and when it comes to portables, I usually buy used because I know those were made in Japan. There is a difference in quality on radios and such.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A Volvo lineup without any station wagons? That is just nuts.
    Someone needs to tell Volvo that SUVs are so last decade.

  • avatar

    Look at the graph. V50 and C30 sales may be pathetic, but they haven’t had the rate of decline of Volvo’s other models. Volvo may want to reconsider which models they kill off.
    The rest of the B&B are right: Volvo made their reputation selling reliable, safe, reasonably priced cars. The descendants of the 240 series may be safe, but they haven’t proved all that reliable, and they certainly aren’t reasonably priced.

  • avatar

    I loved my 940.  I respected, but was irked by my S60.  It is unlikely I will dive into those waters again until Volvo discovers what it is/was about it that made it special.
    I am currently desiring a new car and there is nothing that speaks to me with the same resonance as the Volvo line of 15-20 years ago did. Rock solid, rear wheel drive, tight turning radius, nice (but not upscale) vehicles that did performed reasonably well.
    So I will wait until someone develops the correct product or my requirements change.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here.  A few things especially irked me about my S70 and turned me off the marque for good.
      The rear door lock knobs were moved from the front of the doors to the back, putting them out of reach of anyone sitting in the front seat (ie. the driver) should the power lock unit break ($300 part that didn’t hold up well at all to the slightest abuse).  The bean counters probably saved a couple of fifty cent linkages…  The maintenance light that could be reset only by a $300 electronic doo-dad that available at the dealer- not the “check engine because something is broken” light, the “it’s time to change your oil now dummy” light.  Then there was the very simple, effective, inexpensive timing belt tensioner on the 240 engine- which was abandoned for the white engines and in its place there was an expensive, shorter-lived, Rube Goldberg contraption.
      Ahhh, ranting on the internet is such good therapy!

  • avatar

    Back in the day, the middle class and artsy folks would buy Volvo STATION WAGONS. Today’s station wagon is the hugely impractical and gas guzzling SUV shape. The SUV shape is in my view the US’s version of a hatch back.
    Sedans are just so completely useless for anything. Kill them all to make room for *Volvo*s.
    Volvo needs a:
    * P1800 coupe hero car for those who want style and / or sedan impracticality without the boxy styling
    * More than just a “crossover” (we call them “soft roaders” here) – but re-invent the station wagon to appeal to the soccer moms who just have to have a high seating position to “protect” little Hudson and Jessica.
    * Forget the “prestige” market (like the S class or 7 series, or even competing with Audi at any level). The brand is too damaged to aim there. Use the Chinese ability to make cars *very* cheaply to get more owners. Aim at Jettas not A4’s.
    Safety has to be pretty much the unique selling point. This is particularly important with a Chinese owner. Many Chinese cars are notorious for zero star NCAP ratings.
    The days of the 240 are long gone, along with their owners. The idea that a teacher could own a new Volvo today is sadly not going to happen especially with the death of the C30.

  • avatar

    Volvo’s prime targets in terms of market positioning should be Volkswagen and Acura. Any thought of directly going after BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or Lexus was always insane. Next, they need a car with a hook. Something that really gets them noticed and changes minds. Think first gen Infiniti G35. That car pretty much single handedly brought Infiniti out of their death spiral.
    I think Volvo’s G35 car should be a TSX competitor. It needs to be a premium small car, not a warmed over Mazda 3. Figure out how to beat the TSX with better packaging, exterior and interior design (that part isn’t even hard) performance, and materials, and then undercut Acura by at least $2,000 or so. This is the car the S40 needs to be.
    Also, Volvo needs to understand that 9 year cycles with little or no change is not acceptable anymore. It didn’t work for Lexus, and it doesn’t work for you. The XC90 is a thousand years old. Why would anyone buy one now? Every model should have a 7 year run and then be replaced. Copying Infiniti and going with 5 years on the core cars would be even better, but I don’t think Volvo can afford that.

  • avatar

    These charts clearly show that when Volvo was making Volvos, it did pretty well.
    That is what they need to go back to. Forget competing with Saab (who is dead) or any other luxury brand, Volvo needs to go back to the rugged, reliable and well engineered vehicles it made in it’s heyday. It might not be able to make up the territory it lost to Subaru (Which is everything east of Tahoe and west of the Appalachians) but it can still captivate the coasts as it once did.
    Of course, I just got back from visiting my sister in Portland, Oregon, the Volvo capitol of the world. So maybe I’m seeing things with rose colored glasses. I still want a 940 Turbo wagon with some mods, and nothing any of you say will dissuade me from that! In the true Portland spirit, I changed the fluids, belts and water pump on my sister’s old 240 in exchange for a nice drive up the coast. If only she had a turbo….

  • avatar

    In the UK, Volvo are trying to sell the new S60 with the tagline ‘a sexy Volvo’. They are still trying (and failing) to compete with Audi and BMW, as they have been for the last 15 years.

    They should give that up, and try and build on the dependable. family friendly image that they used to have with their classic estates. I was surprised that they never tried a minivan/MPV (compact minivans are very popular in the UK at present) as I would have thought a Volvo family vehicle would be a slam dunk. The XC90 was a hit in Europe when launched, as it was a big SUV from a brand with a ‘caring’ image. Hence liberals could buy them without feeling guilty!!

    Looking at those sales figures, all I can say is I can see where A Mullaly was coming from, and why Ford was keen to sell ASAP.

    But Volvo has potential to be saved – in Europe/China anyway – its not mortally wounded, like Rover was and Saab now is.

  • avatar

    This is made even worse by the fact that Subaru has basically taken over the niche Volvo used to own (though Subaru seems to be falling into the same temptation of trying to overextend their reach as well). Volvo has basically priced itself out of its traditional market, leaving the more affordable Subaru to take over much of its former demographic.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    By the time Volvo implements this one, and presents a replacement product that covers the two or three models that have been killed, the price of a gallon of dinosaur squeezings will hover closer to $4 than it will to $3. I’d say go with the mid-sized offerings. The U.S. and Canada don’t associate Volvo with small cars. We still want a practical, functional and “can-be-made fun-to-drive” car. Volvo’s best years for sales were during the mid-1980s. Yeah, they sold some DAF thing in Europe, but buyers were going for the 700 and 200s, which were configured in an assortment of engines, plus manual or slushbox. The wagons weren’t that much different from the sedans, unlike today’s products.

  • avatar

    Overpriced ans under-engineered – marked for death.
    Seriously, besides the good seats, what doe Volvo give you for the money they ask? And extremely unreliable and gas-guzzling too! Add to it – Chinese. I don’t buy cars @ Walmart.

  • avatar

    I think Volvo just has a confusion nomenclature for their models. I’m seeing that the switch from 850 and 960 to V and S designations was the beginning of their market share decline.
    So Volvo has very few models: a subcompact model (30/40), a compact (50/60), a midsize model (70/80), and a couple SUV’s (60/90). For a company as small as Volvo, that’s marketing suicide to spread so few advertising dollars across so many “models” with their XC60/XC70/XC90, C30/C70, S40/S60/S80, V50/V70 line up.

  • avatar

    What’s a Volvo?
    That is the problem.  Volvo isn’t sure itself.
    An XC90 owner

  • avatar

    Let’s take a look at the models in Volvo’s lineup with too much overlap. First, you obviously see the S40 and S60. Clearly, S40 is the weaker one. I know they’re different platforms, with S40 closer to 1-series in size, but it’s virtually a smaller version of S60. Ax it first I’d say. V50 vs V70. Same story here. V50 is too similar to V70, and doesn’t sell well. Next, I’d hate to say it, but XC70 probably has to go. There are too many SUV’s in Volvo’s lineup for this to survive. Perhaps bring it back as a slightly raised version of AWD V70. S80.. tough call here. By all accounts, it’s been a disappointment. They should probably replace it with a better car. C70 or C30, nice little niche vehicles. They don’t seem to sell well, though. Ax. Perhaps volvo should come up in future with a unified couple/cabrio platform based on next generation S60.

    And in general, given the low volume of Volvo’s sales overall, they should focus on two platforms only. The “medium size” and “full size”. The medium size could serve as basis for the future S60, V70, and XC60 and the large platform could be used by XC90 and S80

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