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2018 XC40 Launches Volvo’s Small Vehicle Strategy

February 2018, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Mike Antich.
Photo courtesy of Mike Antich.

From Feb. 20-22, Automotive Fleet magazine attended the XC40 Fleet DriveLab in Madrid, Spain, which was a seven-week event that showcased Volvo’s all-new compact SUV to multiple waves of dealers, fleet managers, and fleet management companies operating in the European, Middle East, and African (EMEA) markets.

The XC40 is Volvo’s first entry in the small SUV segment and debuted in Milan, Italy, on Sept. 21, 2017. The XC40 expands the Volvo product portfolio so it now offers, for the first time, three globally available SUVs. The XC40 was first introduced in the European and American markets and will soon launch in China, the world’s largest car market, at the Beijing Auto Show in spring 2018.

The XC40 is significant because it is the cornerstone of Volvo Cars’ global small-car strategy. The XC40 is the first vehicle built around Volvo’s all-new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which was specially created to facilitate development of future smaller cars. The CMA modular architecture will underpin all upcoming cars in the Volvo 40 Series, including fully electrified vehicles.

The CMA modular architecture was co-developed with Volvo Cars parent company, Geely Holding Group, a Chinese multinational automotive manufacturing company.

The XC40 is built in Volvo Cars’ assembly plant in Ghent, Belgium, which is one of its two car manufacturing plants in Europe. Its other European plant is located in Torslanda, Sweden. In addition, Volvo operates two vehicle manufacturing plants in China, with a U.S. plant under construction in South Carolina that is slated to open in the second half of 2018.

The XC40 DriveLab event started with an evening ride-and-drive in central Madrid to highlight the vehicle’s capabilities in a heavily trafficked urban environment. The second day of the DriveLab was held north of Madrid at the Circuito del Jarama, which was the home to the Spanish Grand Prix nine times between 1968 and 1981. At the speedway were product presentations, comparison test drives of competitive models, and behind-the-wheel demonstrations of the SUV’s safety technologies, torsional rigidity, and hill-climbing capabilities.

XC40 Powertrain Options

The XC40 is available with a 150 hp D4 diesel and a 190 hp T5 gasoline four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain.

On Feb. 19, 2018, Volvo launched a third powertrain for the XC40, a new 1.5L three-cylinder Drive-E powertrain, which is the first three-cylinder engine in the company’s 91-year history. The XC40 is the first Volvo model to be equipped with the new 1.5L three-cylinder engine.  

The three-cylinder engine is a direct-injection gasoline engine developed in-house using the same modular design as Volvo’s four-cylinder Drive-E engines. It is mated to a manual six-speed transmission. An optional automatic eight-speed transmission will follow in 2019.

What is significant is that the new three-cylinder powertrain has been designed for integration into Twin Engine plug-in hybrid cars. Ultimately, Volvo’s electric powertrain program will include both a new compact Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants and a pure battery-electric XC40, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio.

By 2025, Volvo plans to globally sell up to one million electrified cars. It plans to achieve this goal by offering at least two hybrid versions of every model in its range and releasing the first all-electric car in 2019.

According to Volvo Cars, it has been readying itself for the emergence of electrified vehicles for the past five years. In addition to its new CMA architecture, Volvo has also developed another all-new vehicle architecture for larger cars called the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which can incorporate either hybrid or fully electric car technology. The larger 90 Series and 60 Series cars are to be built on SPA.

Safety & Functionality

Safety and driver assistance features on the XC40 include Volvo Cars’ Pilot Assist system, City Safety, Run-off Road protection and mitigation, Cross Traffic alert with brake support, and the 360° Camera helps a driver maneuver a car into tight parking spaces.

The XC40 interior design provides drivers and passengers with more functional storage space in the doors and under the seats, a designated space for phones that provides inductive charging, fold-out hooks for small bags, and a removable waste bin in the tunnel console.

In January 2018, the XC40 was awarded the Car of the Year award by the UK automotive publication What Car? It is also one of seven vehicles shortlisted for the 2018 European Car of the Year, with the winner to be announced in March 2018.

Care by Volvo Debuts

The launch of the XC40 also featured the launch of the new Care by Volvo premium program, which is a monthly flat-fee subscription service designed to eliminate down payments and price negotiations. Users can acquire a vehicle for a set payment that’s similar to a lease and also includes insurance, oil changes, wear-and-tear items such as wiper blades, and roadside assistance.

The Care by Volvo program is available to order online in selected markets. Depending on regional availability, Care by Volvo also includes access to a range of digital concierge services, such as fueling, cleaning, service pick-up, and e-commerce delivery to the car.

Care by Volvo is available for XC40 buyers in the following markets: the U.S., Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, and Poland. According to Volvo, other markets will follow at a later stage. It differs from a lease product by offering additional digital services that are included in the price. For example, Volvo on Call, a new digital key technology, comes standard with Care by Volvo. Using this car-sharing feature, a XC40 owner, via a mobile phone, can authorize the sharing of their car with family and friends without having to hand over a physical key.

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