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Volvo S60 R-Design Bucks Classic – if Boring –Image

Niche car could broaden Swedish maker’s global appeal.

by on Aug.18, 2011

Volvo's S60 R-Design features the maker's most powerful production engine ever.

The new Volvo S60 R-Design isn’t for everyone.  In fact, with anticipated sales of less than 1,500 vehicles, the new model will barely show up on the sales charts.  Nonetheless, the Swedish maker is betting the most powerful model it has ever put on the street will surprise those who still think of Volvo as building nothing but safe, boxy and boring automobiles.

“The S60 R-Design is the next step for Volvo,” insists Frank Vacca, who serves as brand manager for the overall S60 line-up.

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With its 325 horsepower inline-six, Volvo is targeting the R-Design at buyers who’ve traditionally ignored its products in favor of more performance-oriented brands like Audi and BMW.  If the company is right, the new model could begin to re-position Volvo as a more serious player in the global luxury market – and build demand for the company’s more mainstream products, as well.

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First Drive: Volvo C30 Electric

Lease price, $2,100 a month, should plunge when next Volvo battery car debuts.

by on Mar.28, 2011

Volvo plans to produce only about 400 of the C30 Electric coupes, but the drivetrain will soon reappear in a new mass-market battery car.

The little coupe slips out the side door of a nondescript warehouse on the fringe of Indianapolis.  Tickling the throttle it surges ahead and effortlessly merges into traffic, yet so quiet it’s easy to miss as it rushes by.  Were it not for the bright white decals on the side of the car and the chrome DRIVe badge on the back one might not even notice the Volvo C30 Electric.

But the little coupe is the latest entry in a growing revolution, the move to electric power.  Later this year, Volvo will put 400 of the C30 Electric battery cars on the road, a quarter of them here in the United States.  They’re part of a project designed to test the new technology before Volvo launches a second battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, targeting a more mainstream market.

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Getting in on the pilot program won’t be cheap.  Volvo expects to lease the C30 battery cars for a whopping 1,500 Euros a month, about $2,100 at the current exchange rate.  That’s nearly six times more than you’d pay to lease either the new Nissan Leaf BEV, or the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Even then, laments Lennart Stegland, president of Volvo’s specialty vehicle subsidiary, the Swedish maker won’t come close to recovering the cost of the development program, never mind the price tag on its 24 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries.  But so it goes, he sighs, as you launch into an entirely new world of technology.

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