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Volvo Reveals Plans for New Design and Higher Pricing

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author photo by Joni Gray December 2011

Fans of the Volvo brand have watched the Swedish company go through its fair share of changes in the USA since it arrived here in the 1950's. It's gone from boxy, but nice to earning a spotless reputation for both safety and performance.

With the Ford ownership of the company in 1998 came even more models and innovations, but after the recession hit Ford was forced to sell its major interest in the brand to the Chinese holding company, Zhejiang Geely.

It's been a year since then and now Volvo has a new global management team ready to make big changes in design, technology and its status as a brand. Known for its "premium" spot in the upscale car world, Volvo is making a concerted effort to move up to the "luxury" spot - in both content and price. The company has their target aimed at three companies - Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.

The first car to receive this treatment will be in 2014 when the XC90 crossover SUV will be replaced by a vehicle created on an all-new design architecture called SPA, which stands for "Scalable Platform Architecture." It may sound complicated, but what Volvo is doing in reality is simplifying its product line all on one global platform.

The look of the new XC90 and other cars following it will reflect Volvo's interpretation of "Scandinavian design," where "less is more and every detail is treated like a work of art." Volvo released drawings of the upcoming look to tease Volvo fans and get them ready to pay a higher price for what Volvo considers a higher quality, more luxurious product.

But don't expect engines to get bigger in the future, Volvo says each of its cars will not exceed 4 cylinders. Volvo CEO, Stefan Jacoby says engine numbers don't matter in Volvo's future vision. Using alternative electric and diesel technology, Volvo will in fact be first to come to market with a diesel plug-in hybrid where drivers can choose between diesel-only and electric-only driving modes.

But with new technology comes higher pricing. And to make sure the pricing plan is a good one, Volvo's global marketing chief, Richard Monturo, said he spent untold hours with current customers to test the idea. "Customers have shown a willingness to pay us more money for our cars. A lot of our customers are highly affluent but buy a more discreet luxury."

What the economy will be like in just a few years is yet unknown, but Volvo claims its goal is not to sell the most cars, but to serve its customers' needs - customers that want more and are willing to pay more to get what they want.

Time will tell if Volvo's planned changes are a safe bet in an unknown economy.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Volvo Reveals Plans for New Design and Higher Pricing - Autotrader