Last night, members of the New England Motor Press Association sat down with Volvo Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Dean Shaw. Meeting in the bowels of the Boston Globe, Shaw clued the assembled group of journalists in on what Volvo has in store for its core region of the Northeast, as well as the whole US market.
If you recall, Volvo found an unlikely savior in Chinese automaker Geely, and if you ask Shaw, the Swedish automaker would rather have Chinese owners than Ford. “We feel more like ‘Volvo’ than we have in 12-13 years.” He continued, “as Ford began selling off premium brands, we put together a plan, without knowing who our new owner would be.”
Shaw pointed out that Chinese ownership has its advantages. One is deeper knowledge of the Chinese market. “You really need someone who knows that market,” said Shaw, “and already has the personal connections within that market.” Shaw said that its new connections to China would give it a leg up on other international markets trying to sell cars in that country.
The group was also given a glimpse of all-new XC90, due for a debut at the LA Auto Show. The extent of the reveal was a pair of teaser shots, and a cutaway, but the latter was key to exhibiting Volvo’s new Scalable Platform Architecture. Like many other automakers, Volvo plans to build nearly its entire lineup off of one basic architecture. It’s a far cry from the K-Car/Caravan days, as new production techniques make for a seemingly infinite number of variations on that platform.
Finally, Volvo talked engines and safety. The former we knew about, but were still a little confused. Apparently, a turbocharged inline four will be called T5 and a twin-charged (turbocharging AND supercharging) inline four will be called T6, capable of 302 horsepower. I suppose this is what Kyle Bazemore at Infiniti meant when he said, “as displacements decrease, automakers will turn to names that don’t accurately represent the engine.”
The future safety tech that was mentioned included pedestrian detection (even in the dark), adaptive cruise control with active steering assist, and even a road barrier detection system. The latter is an advancement of lane departure warning, but will warn you if you are veering in to a jersey barrier. Pretty cool tech, which we’re hoping to see when we hop into a 2014 Volvo S60 in the very near future.