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Posts Tagged ‘Volvo S60’

Volvo Names Kerssemakers to Top Spot in Americas

Long-time company veteran charged with invigorating U.S. sales.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Volvo appointed Lex Kerssemakers to head up North American operations.

Just a week after it debuted its first China-built vehicle to be sold in the U.S., the S60, Volvo put Lex Kerssemakers in charge of the automaker’s North and South American operations with a specific task: get U.S. sales back up.

Kerssemakers is now as Senior Vice President Americas and his appointment is, according to the automaker, a symbol of “the company’s commitment to the core American market.” The newly appointed chief was previously Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management. He’s been with the automaker for 16 years.

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In his new role, Kerssemakers reports to Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ president and chief executive. He will also assume the role of President and chief executive of Volvo Cars of North America. (more…)

Volvo’s Radical New Powertrain Line-up Debuts

Maker dropping old Ford engines by 2015.

by on Jan.24, 2014

The 2015 Volvo V60 will debut the new Drive-E engines, as will the new S60 and XC60 models.

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.

The Last Word!

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.

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Volvo’s Chinese Fire Drill

New owner Geely hopes to ignite Volvo sales around the world.

by on Jun.21, 2013

Workers assembling a pilot S60L sedan at the new Volvo plant in Chengdu.

The assembly line creeps along at a glacial pace.  For the next few months, the workers at the sprawling plant on the outskirts of the Sichuanese capital of Chengdu will be carefully trained before the first cars actually roll into Chinese showrooms.

But eventually, if all goes according to plan, the factory will be running at a frantic rate.  Long little more than an after-thought in the global luxury market, Volvo Cars has ambitions to challenge more established brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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At least, that’s the goal set by Geely which purchased the Swedish maker from Ford Motor Co. three years ago.  The ambitious Chinese conglomerate plans to invest at least $6 billion to rebuild Volvo, completely updating its product line-up and adding new plants to produce them, starting with the factory in Chengdu and another in China’s Northeast industrial belt.

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Ten Best Base Model Cars

No econoboxes, these.

by on Jun.13, 2013

The base Honda Civic LX offers some big surprises for a "base" car, including a rearview camera.

New car prices have been rising fast in recent years.  That’s priced a lot of potential buyers out of the market while others have been forced to downgrade their aspirations.

Not all that long ago, trying to find a nice new car, truck or crossover on a budget meant settling for some stripped-down econobox that offered little more than basic transportation.  But these days, makers seem intent on upgrading their base models to keep customers happy – betting that will increase loyalty and return sales when owners can afford to trade in on something more lavish.

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“Just because you might not be able to afford all of the bells and whistles in a car doesn’t mean you have to sing the base-model blues,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of the website Cars.com. “Some automakers are packing even their base models full of features making them more valuable to shoppers looking for a good deal.”

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No Polish Joke: Polish Website Leaks Pics of New Volvo V40

Details to come at Geneva Motor Show.

by on Feb.23, 2012

A Facebook leak provides us with a clear picture of the new Volvo S40.

Somebody is going to need to plug the leak in Geneva – not us of course.  It seems like every day we catch a glimpse of another one of the many products that are scheduled to debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.  And today brought a pair of inadvertent early releases, the Audi A3 and, here, the new Volvo V40.

Images of the Swedish 5-door offering – which just happens to be targeted against the likes of the Audi A3 – surfaced on Polish magazine Motodziennik’s Facebook page a good week ahead of schedule.

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Until now, Volvo has only offered a fuzzy silhouette image to tease interest.

For the moment, Volvo isn’t providing any additional details, hoping it can still draw a crowd to its stand at Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center.  But we’re hearing enough about the new wagon to offer a few hints of what is planned.

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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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Safety Isn’t Good Enough Anymore, Says Volvo CEO

New products, new owner – and a critical new Chinese market.

by on Sep.27, 2010

Volvo "owns" safety, says VCNA CEO Doug Speck, with technology like the new Pedestrian Protection system. But that's not good enough, he adds.

Few automotive manufacturers have a more clear-cut image than Volvo.  Say, “safety,” and the brand immediately comes to mind.  But in an era when most automakers promise safe products, can Volvo fight back by broadening its own brand image?

That’s what the maker is hoping to do with products like the 2011 S60, a surprisingly stylish and sporty new sedan that also will be the last model Volvo fully develops under its former owner, Ford Motor Co.  Going forward, Volvo will be the Western face of new owner Zhejiang Geely, the ambitious Chinese holding company that hopes to become one of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers.

“This business is too competitive.  You can’t be good at just one thing,” concedes Volvo Cars North America CEO Doug Speck.  “We own safety,” he contends, “but in addition to that we’ll add cool design and fun-to-drive.”

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It will take a number of years for Volvo to revise its image, Speck acknowledges, and the S60 will be the first step in that process.  The sedan targets the largest segment in the luxury car market – and its absence from the maker’s line-up, over the last year, was a major reason why Volvo sales slid 12% for the calendar-year-to-date, even as the rest of the industry began a slow recovery, Speck argues.

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First Drive: 2011 Volvo S60

Thinking outside the box.

by on Sep.27, 2010

Out of the box, a coupe-like look for the new 2011 Volvo S60.

Despite an admirable career on the track, Andy Pilgrim began the year feeling a bit like the old comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, he just couldn’t get any respect.  Not behind the wheel of a Volvo S60 going up against competitors driving Mustang, Corvettes and Porsches in the grueling World Challenge Series.

Yet as the season winds down, Pilgrim and teammate Randy Pobst have clinched both the Driver’s and Manufacturer’s Championships – and shined a spotlight on a brand long known for boring design and anything but performance.

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Now, with the launch of the all-new, 2011 Volvo S60, the Swedish automaker is out to shift the way potential buyers think of the brand on the street, as well as the track.  And after getting a first drive of the new, coupe-like sedan, we have to agree that Volvo gets the checkered flag.

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It’s Back to the Future, Says Bill Ford

But will battery cars do better than they did when his great-grandfather was around?

by on Apr.16, 2010

Thomas Edison looks over a battery-powered Ford, favored by some early motorists, including Henry Ford's wife Clara.

Everything old is new again, goes the old refrain, and nowhere is that more true than in the auto industry.  Though they may seem high-tech, primitive navigation systems first appeared in the earliest days of the 20th Century, and fuel-saving CVT transmissions date back even further.

Then there’s the electric vehicle, which has suddenly became the hot topic on this year’s auto show circuit.  But if you’d been around for the first big U.S. car show, a century ago in New York, you’d have discovered there were as many battery-powered vehicles as those running on gasoline.  Even Henry Ford got into the act, producing an electric flivver for his wife Clara, and asking old buddy Thomas Edison to try to come up with a longer-range battery.

“They’ve been around really for the past century or so, but they really haven’t had mass-market appeal,” suggested the industry pioneer’s great-grandson, and now Ford Motor Co. executive chairman, Bill Ford Jr. 

Will they now?  That’s the big question that the Ford heir raised at the close of this year’s annual conference of automotive executives and engineers, the SAE World Congress.

The modern electric vehicle, using the latest in lithium-ion technology, “appears (to be) the biggest came-changer” in the industry, said Ford, during an SAE speech. 

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He noted that the maker is lining up five vehicles that can run, at least for moderate distances, on battery power alone – a figure that doesn’t include conventional gas-electric models, like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. 

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Buick Regal to be Built, Eventually, in Canada

GM makes good on loans from Canadian governments.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start.

Only four cylinder engines and the highest trim level to start for the German Regal.

North American production of the all-new 2011 Buick Regal will start at the Oshawa Car Assembly plant beginning in Ontario during the first quarter of 2011.

Until then, a rebadged and recalibrated version of the Opel Insignia will be imported from Rüsselsheim, Germany starting in the second quarter of 2010.

The status of all Opel plants is uncertain today. GM continues to seek financing from European governments and concessions from union members for its loss-making subsidiary after its surprise decision not to sell Opel to Magna earlier this month.

GM maintains that it will keep the German plants open after large cutbacks in the workforce. An Opel plant in Belgium appears to be slated for closing under the latest plan. Almost $5 billion is thought to be required to restructure Opel and GM is only prepared (or able?) to front about 15% of that.

A Buick version of the car is already in production in China since last December, but GM says it has no plans to import Regal from the far east.

That could change quickly if Opel collapses, of course. GM reported a $1.2 billion loss in its latest quarter, the first one since it emerged from bankruptcy this past July. It is unclear if GM can continue to carry Opel for very long without billions of dollars in government assistance. The  private credit markets are unlikely to advance the ailing company any money without the government loan guarantees GM has been seeking.

The Regal is a mid-size sport sedan based on the award-winning Opel Insignia – the 2009 European Car of the Year. Whether such attributes can return potential buyers to North American showrooms where Buick is struggling remains to be seen. Year-to-date, U.S. Buick sales are down 33% in a market that is off 24%.  It is ironic that the brand long associated with Flint, Michigan, is now stronger in China than its home country.

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Global View!

“The new Regal gives Buick a modern performance sedan and its production here in Oshawa is terrific news for our employees, the CAW, dealers and suppliers,” says Arturo Elias, president, General Motors of Canada.

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