By on May 24, 2018

Volvo, back from near death and feeling pretty pleased with itself, wants to capitalize on the modular platform found beneath the XC40 compact crossover. With 80,000 orders for the new-for-2018 ‘ute under its belt, the Chinese-owned Swede plans to spawn more models and reassert itself in the small car space.

On Thursday, the company said it would throttle up production of the XC40 at its Belgian assembly plant, which will soon boast quite a bit of usable space. The S60 sedan’s headed to South Carolina later this year. Meanwhile, the V60 wagon sibling will move most of its production to a Swedish plant.

What does this mean for the United States? Perhaps more than you’d expect.

We’ll definitely see the new S60, which Volvo wants to appeal to sporty, youthful buyers, but it’s difficult to see any real hope of a small passenger car coup in the American marketplace. It’s no longer a space many automakers are interested in fighting for. Still, the automaker, which said two years ago that the 40-series cars would certainly arrive on these shores, hasn’t publicly backtracked. Volvo trademarked the C40 name in the U.S. in 2015 and the V40 name in 2016.

A Volvo spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the company would replace the current, overseas-only V40 with a “range” of small models based on the XC40’s Compact Modular Architecture. These models would not be hatchbacks, she said, without going into detail.

The first XC40s trickled onto U.S. sales charts in February. Last month, Volvo sold 1,404 of them in the states, making it the brand’s third-best selling model after the XC90 and new XC60 crossovers.

“The XC40’s success has surpassed even our highest expectations,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a recent media release.

Volvo has said that its CMA architecture can be easily shortened, paving the way for a smaller class of subcompact vehicles that more or less match the current C-segment’s width. It also seems pretty protective of its future model names. In the past couple of years, the automaker has filed U.S. trademark applications for the names V20, V30, S50, XC10, XC20, XC30, and XC50.

While a trademark is no guarantee of U.S. sales availability, a subcompact CMA crossover seems like a likely — and necessary — addition to its American lineup. While it pales in comparison to the kind of volume seen in the compact segment, it’s crowded enough to be  worthwhile.

Besides the 40-series cars, Volvo is readying an all-electric model for a 2019 debut. This vehicle will apparently launch as a standalone model.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

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22 Comments on “Now That the XC40’s a Hit, Volvo Wants More Small Cars...”


  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    ““The XC40’s success has surpassed even our highest expectations,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a recent media release.”

    I hate to think what their idea of “highest expectations” are of their compact crossover in a market that can’t get enough compact crossovers.

  • avatar
    Fred

    A V40 would get me into the show room, at least. Still the dealer is over 100 miles away, so it’s going to be a tough sell unless I can find someone here who can work on them.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    We have dealers where I live, but I don’t see a lot of Chinese Volvos in KC, lots of XC90s from the early 2000s with temporary tags and BHPH dealer stickers.Unfortunately Volvo lost a loyal base to Subaru, and can’t compete with more proven European marks with other customers.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      What other European marks are we talking about?

      VW cum Audi cum Porsche? I’m not buying an MQB car out of concerns that it would fall apart after 5 years. Also, did you see how much a Macan costs?

      BMW? MINI? When TrueDelta was still alive, Countryman was racking 56 visits. My Wrangler is better than that! X1 is just shameful.

      Merc? Total trash on the low end. Well, infotainment is passable, but ewwww that interior.

      I am in the market and from what I’m seeing, the only “Yrpian” car that can compete with XC40 is Evoque. Which is Indian, actually.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I have to say – I think Volvo NAILED the XC40. The form factor, the tech, the marketing, the capitalizing on the modern, techy, upscale image the current XC90 began. It will sell to millennial women like nothing else.

    Whether Chinese or Swedish, some very smart, intuitive people working at Volvo right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      I don’t know about women, but they did appeal to me with the reasonable break-over angle and the 18.8 low gear. I like the 3629 lbs curb weight. I can live with the 75-inch width. The biggest negative is the stupid glass roof that steals an inch of headroom. Euro-spec cars come without, but ours do not. I am concerned that if Volvo ever offers us a car with a solid roof, they may confine it to a stripper model like FWD-only T4. Other than that, totally nailed it. Just needs a 0.75″ lift and a center skid plate.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    I wanted to go C30 last time but walked away to a Golf for fuel efficiency / total cost / blah handling reasons. I liked the C30 so much that I’m still seriously thinking to get a 6 year-old used one and modify it.

    I would get like white on rice on a small Volvo wagon or a hatch that got anything close 35mpg, had a manual, and was decent to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      I actually kinda wish I’d looked more seriously at C30s when I got my Jetta. I definitely would’ve preferred a Golf over a Jetta but the market for used Golfs was not good at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        TDIandThen....

        There’s a shop in Houston which has figured out and published instructions for switching in an AWD from an S40 and upgrading flywheel clutch exhaust etc. They charge 10k and are Volvo techs so they do Polestar tunes as well…. Yeah it’s a dumb idea. :)

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Steph, change the title (it’s XC40, not CX40), and remember that in WordPress you can do it without altering the slug of the article.

  • avatar
    Deontologist

    Good God just a few weeks ago there was an article about how busy the editors of TTAC were, and how TTAC can’t possibly review every reader submitted car review.

    I’ll tell you what, Steph. I’ll copyread everything you write for TTAC for a flat 10 dollars a month. Tell me you’re not too stingy for that.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I drove the XC40 recently, and really liked it.

    Only issues were:

    – We needed something a bit bigger
    – Dealer had one car not spoken for, and he figured orders were backed up all the way until August at best.

    The XC60 is in another league, which is is probably a good thing, as it helps justify the price increase. It also feels totally different to the old generation. Only commonality is really the name.

    • 0 avatar
      jackgopack4

      I’m waiting to see the new V60 across Country, might be a good compromise between cargo space and driveability

    • 0 avatar
      volvoguyincanada

      Interested to hear how different it feels from the last generation. Haven’t had a chance to drive one yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        So with the XC60, here’s what I noticed as being the big differences with the platform update:

        – The old one really reminded me of driving a W124 Mercedes-Benz, for lack of a better comparison. Very solid and planted feeling, yet not really nimble. Great for zooming down the highway at triple digit speeds, as well as big sweeping turns.

        – The new one feels slightly less connected to the road…but in a way that’s actually good. Ride is a lot smoother – feels much nicer overall. Doesn’t actually impact your ability to feel safe at high speeds. What it does do is make it so that you have moments where it’s less obvious how fast you are going.

        – The old T6 had a really throaty exhaust note. The new 2.0 liter doesn’t sound quite as throaty, but in T6 form, the combination of the supercharger and turbocharger makes it sound futuristic for lack of a better word. Frankly, the whole 2.0l four cylinder under every hood would be a lot better if they used a similar setup.

        – Seats are great on both, but the full verdict is not in yet on the new one until I can experience it on a long journey. The new leather certainly feels more luxurious than the old leather, but the old leather is super durable.

        – The view out of the windshield also feels different. It seems like there is a bit more hood visible on the new one. It’s a nice look.

        – They’ve improved sound insulation. Then again, the wind noise on the old one was definitely noticeable.

        At the end of the day, I think the best way to describe it is this: The old XC60 feels like a luxury car should have felt in the 1990s. The new XC60 feels like a luxury car should feel today.

  • avatar
    V16

    The Chinese infusion of ownership/cash has turned the fortunes of Volvo in a positive direction. Solid vehicle lineup across all categories.
    Looking forward to the South Carolina manufactured S60 that is on the horizon.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Jeeze, who would have thought that a diversified portfolio minimizes your risk exposure?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    To my surprise, the XC40 is now on my list of cars to check out. Alex Dykes’ review was very positive, and the prices aren’t terrible.

    But I think I’d prefer the electric version, although it won’t be cheaper.


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