DETROIT — Volvo is among a growing group of automakers planning to build a car smaller than it current smallest offerings — the S40 and V50, according to an article in the Detroit News on January 12. The C30 will be derived from Volvo's S40 and V50 models, which have the same basic underpinnings as the Mazda3, and the Ford Focus sold in Europe. The C30 will play a lead role as Volvo expands its model lineup to boost annual global sales to 600,000 units. Last year, Volvo sold 460,000 vehicles worldwide. The C30 will debut in 2006 and join a segment currently occupied by the Mini but getting more crowded. Mercedes-Benz plans to sell the pint-sized smart car here in 2006. And in 2007, BMW will market the 1-Series, now on sale in Europe. American drivers have shied away from down-sized cars, fearing they fail to provide adequate crash protection. Volvo hopes to dispel those fears by designing the C30 the same way it designed the S40 sedan. The S40 won three five-star ratings for crashworthiness and a four-star rating. Volvo achieved the results by first crash-testing a car without an engine. Then engineers measured the space that remained in its engine bay and designed a powertrain to fit, operating on the premise that the engine would not intrude on the passenger compartment during a collision. "We wanted to find a way to offer the same level of safety as in our bigger cars," Volvo spokesman Crister Gustafsson said.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials