Hoping to establish itself as a significant player in the global luxury car market, Volvo is making an $11 billion investment in new products and the plants to build them – an aggressive and much-needed plan that puts a particular premium on an all-new line-up of advanced powertrains that Volvo promises will deliver both segment-leading mileage and world-class performance.
The first of the maker’s models equipped with the new Drive-E engine family are just beginning to roll into U.S. showrooms this month – and they mark the beginning of the end of the relationship between the Swedish-based company and Ford Motor Co. that began when the Detroit maker purchased Volvo Cars in 1999.
But the powertrain program isn’t without its risks, Volvo officials acknowledge. Among other things, it will mean convincing upscale buyers who traditional equate displacement with desirability that a high-tech 4-cylinder engine can be as good, or better, than the six- and eight-cylinder powertrains that traditionally dominate the luxury market.
The goal is to create a family of “smaller, more intelligent engines that will turn the V -8 engine into a dinosaur,” proclaims Derek Crabb Volvo’s vice president of powertrain engineering.