The car appeared to offer a clear sign of Volvo’s intentions for the Chinese auto market. Full-size luxury sedans are an important segment in China.
With that, we expected production of a full-size model to be a pretty much be a done deal. Volvo has gone back and forth about this publicly, but the Concept Universe might be an indication that its mind has been made up.
Accompanying the car’s press release was a quote from Volvo’s President Chief Executive Officer Stefan Jacoby saying: “The Concept Universe offers the world a sneak preview of what people can expect from our next top-of-the-line sedan.” Now, new comments by Jacoby, reported by Automotive News, seem to conflict with that.
“It is too early to enter the S-class-size market,” Jacoby said. “We are concentrating with our new products on our core segments.”
Apparently, Jacoby thinks the Volvo brand isn’t yet ready for a full-size flagship. We would be inclined to agree, as the company needs to do more to lay a foundation with mainstream models. Volvo was bought by Chinese automaker Geely last year for $1.7 billion. Its chairman, Li Shufu is reportedly eager to push Volvo upmarket to better compete in the luxury segment.
Given its ownership by Geely, Volvo is going to put a particular emphasis on the Chinese market over the next few years. Volvo has set a goal for 200,000 units a year by 2015, and to help achieve that is building a plant in Chengdu, China that is set to open in 2013.
Given the styling of the Concept Universe, we think the company might have a little more work to do in the design department as well. Reaction to the car could also have something to do with the company’s apparent backtracking – there are many variables.