Tiny Swedes: Volvo Won't Ignore the Subcompact Segment, Hints U.S. Chief

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

With the stately S90 sedan and V90 wagon out of the way, Volvo’s main focus falls on the upcoming S40 and XC40 compact sedan and crossover. In the middle ground, the Swedish automaker has already unveiled the handsomely redesigned 2018 XC60.

Will it stop there? Not according to Volvo Car USA’s president and CEO.

Speaking to Car & Driver about the brand’s naming process, Lex Kerssemakers mentioned the Volvo range won’t use the 40-series as a basement.

“It’s pretty straightforward: The 90 is the biggest, and the 40 is the smallest,” Kerssemakers said. “And when there is a 20, it will be a smaller one.”

This is the first time anyone has mentioned a potential upcoming subcompact from the automaker. As Volvo only builds vehicles for global markets, it’s a near-certainty the U.S. would see at least one vehicle from the 20-series range. If the range includes a hatchback and a small crossover, it’s the latter that could prove the most competitive.

Buyers have taken a shine to very small utility vehicles, and the segment represents an untapped area of growth for the resurgent Volvo. In the premium field, Mercedes-Benz already fields its GLA, while BMW has the X1. Downmarket options include the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and new Toyota C-HR, along with the Jeep Renegade and Chevrolet Trax/Buick Encore.

There’s probably room for Volvo at the table.

“Growth has tapered off sharply in early 2017, which is to be expected,” said TTAC sales analyst Tim Cain of the subcompact utility market. “There are no new variants being added, the kinds of vehicles that kept causing the segment to grow with a new Honda HR-V here and a new Jeep Renegade there. Subcompact crossovers accounted for 7.4 percent of the SUV/CUV market in the first quarter of 2017, on par with their market share a year ago.”

As it seeks volume (and profit) growth, Kerssemakers said that Volvo’s focus remains on “bread-and-butter” models. Coupes and convertibles — for the time being, anyway— aren’t of much interest to the automaker, he added.

[Image: Volvo]

Steph Willems
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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 19, 2017

    "...the resurgent Volvo" Hmm. US sales are down 18% YTD this year.

  • Never_follow Never_follow on Apr 19, 2017

    Bring back the C30. Awesome little car with the T5.

    • See 2 previous
    • TDIandThen.... TDIandThen.... on Apr 20, 2017

      I would have got a C30 the first time round too but the efficiency was awful. Maybe this time with a turbo three plus electric under the hood? I'd be in if it got even low thirties mpg combined.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.