Prior to the Fiat 500, the only successful premium small car in the United States was the MINI. A- and B-segments are starting to be taken more seriously by manufacturers, and we’re seeing the luxury brands getting in on the game. We’re hoping Buick will get a version of the recently-introduced Opel Adam. Volvo reportedly wants to get in on the game as well.
Under the ownership of Geely, Volvo wants to take sales to 800,000 units by 2018. A lot of that will come from growth markets like China, but it wants to expand its footprint in established markets as well. A number of initiatives are going into place as part of the goals, such as the new Volvo Scalable Architecture that will underpin the lineup, as well as exclusive three- and four-cylinder engine power.
According to Chief Executive Officer Stefan Jacoby, Volvo wants to expand at the top and low levels. At the top, with a 7-Series competitor (see Concept You) and at the bottom with a competitor to the MINI.
“Premium customers no longer define luxury based on the size of the car or number of cylinders, there are other attributes which will come into play,” says Jacoby, speaking to Automotive News. Currently the just-launched Volvo V40 (which we don’t get in the U.S) is the smallest in the lineup – the V40’s primary competitors are the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Jacoby said his plan isn’t to work on a MINI competitor anytime soon though. “My priority is to bring the Scalable Platform Architecture online and to renew Volvo’s core ranges, the 60, the 80/90 and the SUVs…..when I have managed this, I will look to diversification, going into niches, doing sporty versions and also looking to smaller cars.”
We’d have to agree; Volvo needs a strong core lineup from which to branch out from. That’s what everyone else in the segment has done. Part of the appeal of cars like the MINI and Fiat 500 is their charm. To find success, Volvo will have to find a way to play in that arena.