Volvo S90 wins prestigious Production Car Design of the Year 2015
Volvo Cars’ S90 premium sedan has been voted Production Car Design of the Year 2015 by a panel of professional car designers from around the globe.
The award, presented by Car Design News, represents the pinnacle of automotive design awards. The jury is made up of eighteen top car designers from around the world from companies such as Bentley, Daimler, McLaren and Ferrari.
“Our use of high-end materials, classic proportions and controlled surfacing reflects our intention to forge our own path. We don’t want to fit in, we want to stand out,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President, Design, at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo Cars’ interiors have received a lot of attention in recent times thanks to the serene nature of the design and the use of key design elements, exemplified by the elegant air blades and control surfaces in the new S90.
The Volvo S90 was chosen by the eighteen-strong panel of judges from a list of twenty contenders. The premium sedan received praise for its great proportions, authentic use of materials and timeless design.
Commenting of the award, Car Design News editor Owen Ready said that the S90 was recognised “for its priority of clear, calm design over the ‘styling entertainment’ that has been plaguing the industry for too long”.
The award was presented at a ceremony hosted by Car Design News in Geneva.
The best is still to come: Volvo CEO
The pace of change at Volvo Cars will remain undiminished in coming years despite recent success in tripling its operating profit in 2015 to SEK6.6bn, according to Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive.
Mr Samuelsson said he was proud to have reported that Volvo’s operating profit margin increased from 1.6 per cent in 2014 to 4 per cent in 2015, but pointed out that this was around half the level being generated by its competitors in the premium segment.
“Volvo’s transformation is nowhere near complete. The company’s revitalization has been effective so far, but work remains to be done and we are entirely focused on the future. The next stage in Volvo’s expansion will be even more exciting than the first.”
Volvo is implementing a sweeping USD11bn transformation plan that has involved the development of its own modular vehicle architecture, a new engine range, global manufacturing capability, a completely renewed product range and world leading developments in safety, autonomous driving and connectivity.
But Mr Samuelsson made clear that despite these recent changes, the company retains an ambitious medium term expansion plan that will lead to an increase in sales, improved profitability, enhanced productivity and a position as one of the world’s leading premium car brands.
The following areas, among others, will be in focus in coming years:
The next stage in Volvo’s transformation will be driven by a completely renewed product portfolio.
Larger 90 series and 60 series cars will be built on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) architecture. It will also implement a global small car strategy, introducing the quality and technical sophistication that is available on SPA to smaller cars on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA).
“Our new expanded global range of smaller cars will improve and broaden Volvo’s presence in an important and growing market segment,” said Mr Samuelsson.
Volvo will continue to reposition its brand to compete with its global rivals, revive sales and operations in the US, continue to grow sales in China, double market share in Europe and overall reach sales of 800,000 cars globally.
“Both sales mix and profitability will improve as we roll out our new products,” said Mr Samuelsson.
Volvo’s plant in Torslanda, Sweden, will in future make its 90 series top of the range cars as well as next generation 60 series, while its plant in Ghent, Belgium, will become a purely CMA plant for new 40 series cars. A new plant in the US will become operational in 2018 and make 60 series SPA based cars. The plants in China will make cars for domestic use and for export.
“We are developing a global industrial footprint that will mean we will primarily build cars in the regions in which we sell them. This is not only more efficient, but also provides a natural currency hedge,” said Mr Samuelsson.
The company’s operating profit margin will double from today’s level and be brought in line with its competitors in the premium segment.
“This year will be another record year in terms of sales and profitability will also improve,” Mr Samuelsson said.
Volvo will also position itself as a leading global maker of electrified vehicles, a series of four and three cylinder plug-in twin engine cars, offering world beating combinations of power and low emissions. Every range of cars it sells will have this option. It will also develop a new all-electric car by 2019.
“At least 10 per cent of annual sales will be electrified vehicles in the medium term,” said Mr Samuelsson.
Volvo will start one of the world’s most advanced and ambitious autonomous driving vehicle test in Gothenburg, in 2017, with 100 real customers using AD cars in everyday life, paving the way for us to entrench its position as a global leader in AD technologies.
“We have stated that by 2020 no one should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo car. Autonomous driving is one key path to achieving this vision,” said Mr Samuelsson.
At the same time as revenues and profits are rising at Volvo, the company will retain a relentless focus on costs in order to ensure that it achieves its ambition of increasing its operating.
“We will grow, but we will not grow fat,” said Mr Samuelsson. “Improving productivity is always a priority. We have come a long way in the last five years, but we still have a long way to go.”
480 ES: The Volvo that paved the way to the future is turning 30
The Volvo 480 ES was the first front-wheel drive car with a transverse engine produced by Volvo. It's now been 30 years since this wedge-shaped car made its official première at the Geneva Motor Show.
When the annual motor show in Geneva opened on 6 March 1986, the Volvo 480 ES was one of the cars that attracted the most attention. It was not just the première of the first sports car from Volvo in over a decade. The 480 ES was also the brand's first front-wheel drive car in series production. The model designation was tied to the 1800 ES sports wagon, which ended production in 1973. The low, wedge-shaped body with pointed nose and pop-up headlights provided a hint of the future, while the abruptly-ending rear section with glass tailgate was yet another way to pay homage to the 1800 ES.
Several sketches had been prepared by designers like Carozzeria Bertone and Volvo Cars Chief Designer Jan Wilsgaard, but the proposal that got the green light was created by John De Vries of Volvo's subsidiary in the Netherlands. Dynamics and personality were key words guiding the design.
The interior was also innovative, with an instrument panel angled towards the driver and adjustable backrests in the individual rear seats. The interior was designed by Peter Horbury, who would later become Volvo's Chief Designer.
The level of technology in the car was high, and the 480 ES was well equipped even in the standard version. A new feature was the trip computer. This “electronic information centre” could give the driver information about average consumption, average speed, range, and outside temperature. Digitally, of course.
The 1.7-litre engine came from Renault and produced a power of 109 hp thanks to the help of catalytic converters. This was enough to produce a top speed of 190 km/h and enabled the car to handle the sprint to 100 km/h in 9.5 s. While the engine power was not so high, the 480 ES was a road car with driving properties that could match its sporty appearance.
1998 saw the launch of the 480 Turbo, which had a 120 hp engine with the help of its exhaust turbo and intercooler. In 1993, a new 2.0-litre engine was added to the 480 ES series, with 110 hp and, above all, improved torque.
The 480 series was designed to be a niche model and was not a big seller for Volvo. However, it was more important for Volvo than many realized at the Geneva Motor Show in 1986.
The 480 was namely the first car in a large and comprehensive project – internally called Galaxy. The name implied that they were aiming for the stars. For Volvo, it meant that a new era of technology was beginning. Rear-wheel drive was replaced with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a range of new engines was developed.
Project Galaxy began in 1978. Two years later, the first front-wheel drive prototype was ready. The project was then split up so that Volvo Cars in Sweden was responsible for the larger car that would become the 850, and the Dutch subsidiary Volvo Cars B.V. was responsible for the smaller models – 440, 460 and 480.
There were plans for an open 480 ES, and a prototype of a convertible version of 480 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1990. However, it never made it into production. Neither did the Targa version that was also developed for study purposes. Three of the prototypes of an open 480 ES are currently preserved at the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg.
The Volvo 480 ES was primarily marketed in Europe. The largest single market was the UK, where 22,000 cars were sold. Production of the car in Volvo's plant in Born, Netherlands ended in September 1995. At the same time, the new compact model S40 was picked up. 76,375 Volvo 480s were built in total.