To reach its sales target Samuelsson, who has been CEO since late 2012, is heavily counting on the automaker’s new compact modular architecture (CMA). "We need a platform that can make us more premium so we can produce no-compromise Volvos. That is what this platform offers," Samuelsson said at the CMA's May debut in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The first CMA car will be the XC40 compact SUV, which will compete against the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA when it goes on sale worldwide next year. Volvo showed a concept of the XC40 at the event as well as a second compact prototype that blends hatchback, wagon and sedan attributes.
It was Volvo's way of showing its intentions to greatly expand its compact family without fully committing to any additional body types. Volvo’s compact range currently consists of the V40 hatchback and V40 Cross Country, neither of which is sold in the U.S.
"The bottom line is that we will have a broader range than now with just the V40," Samuelsson said. “We need a broader range to grow.”
To better compete in the U.S., where Volvo aims to lift sales to 100,000 in the midterm from 70,047 last year and a recent low of 53,952 in 2010, as well as in China, Samuelsson strongly hinted at offering a compact with sedan attributes.
"I think more sedan-like cars could be very interesting especially as we see the growth potential in Asia and the U.S.," he said. One model that has captured Volvo’s attention is the Audi A3 sedan, which made its U.S. debut in April 2014 and arrived in China five months later.
Volvo design boss Thomas Ingenlath said the A3 "shows the very strong power of the sedan" in the compact segment. However, he said that if Volvo joins the segment its offering would be different from the A3, which he considers "almost too retro." Said Ingenlath: "I think we can be a bit more modern in the interpretation of what a sedan can be."
Volvo said its new compact cars will have innovative connectivity services, including the ability to share a digital key to allow another person temporary access, plus the world's most advanced standard package of safety features, all of which will trickle down from the automaker's higher-end 60 series and 90 series models.
Volvo also promised that the CMA range will include a full-electric vehicle as well as variants with either a diesel or gasoline engine or a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Volvo didn't say when the battery-electric compact would arrive or share details on which CMA-based model would offer the technology.