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Volvo You concept is the shape of things to come

Mon, 19 Sep 2011

The sleek Volvo concept unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show is headed to production, said Volvo Chairman Li Shufu.

"The board has approved production of the concept, known as You, but the timetable has to be finalized,'' Li said during an interview at the Frankfurt auto show. He said it will be "somewhere around 2015."

It's part of the plan by Chinese owner Zhejiang Geely to move the Volvo brand upscale.

The concept is a four-door fastback with rear doors that are hinged at the rear, commonly known in the industry as "suicide doors." It was created on Volvo's new front-wheel-drive platform, known as SPA, which stands for Scalable Platform Architecture. The platform will be used for the next generation of the 60, 70, 80 and 90 series.

The production version of the You will be the largest and most expensive car produced by Volvo, Li said.

Vehicles developed off that platform will be offered only with a four-cylinder engine.

The dimensions are similar to those of today's Volvo 80 sedan. The car is intended to compete with the Audi A6, BMW 5 series and Mercedes-Benz E class, according to Per-Ake Froberg, a company spokesman.

Li said Volvo will expand its product line and is willing to consider joint ventures.

"Like any other car companies in the world, we are open and welcome any strategic cooperation opportunities. But there are no talks going on except with Geely in China," he said.

Volvo was sold last year by Ford Motor Co. to China's Zhejiang Geely for about $1.5 billion. Li also is president of Geely.

Volvo is trying to attract luxury car owners. Being in "a position between not truly being premium and losing ground against volume competitors is not a sustainable position," said Volvo Car Corp. CEO Stefan Jacoby. "We will clearly go upscale."

Volvo wants worldwide sales of 800,000 units by 2020, more than double the 373,525 vehicles it sold in 2010. This year's sales likely will grow to 400,000 units, possibly 430,000 vehicles, Jacoby said.

As Volvo sales grow, the brand will consider a factory in the United States, he said. But a decision won't be made for about five years.

Volvo's 2020 sales target for the United States is to more than double sales to 120,000 units.

This year Volvo predicted it would sell 60,000 to 70,000 cars in the United States in 2011 based on strong sales of the redesigned S60 sedan. Through August, it sold 47,113.

By Rick Kranz and Diana T. Kurylko- Automotive News