For Volvo, 4 refreshed nameplates to carry load for a while
The refreshed 2014 XC60, Volvo's top seller worldwide in 2012.
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GENEVA -- Volvo is counting on four refreshed nameplates and a new safety feature to help sustain sales until the brand can launch a more complete overhaul of its lineup in a few years.
Volvo introduced refreshed exteriors and interior improvements for the compact S60 sedan and XC60 crossover, as well the larger S80 sedan and XC70 wagon, at the Geneva auto show today.
The four nameplates accounted for 51 percent of Volvo's global volume last year and will carry a huge sales burden until 2015 when the company's redesigned XC90 crossover goes on sale.
The XC90, which is 10 years old, will be the first vehicle developed entirely under Zhejiang Geely Holding Group -- the Chinese company that acquired Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010.
The change in ownership and global sales downturn forced Volvo to delay product programs at the same time that many rivals have expanded their car and light truck lineups.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson last month lamented the decision to postpone a makeover of the flagship XC90 until 2015. The XC90, Volvo's top-seller worldwide as recently as 2007, is also among the automaker's most profitable nameplates.
But sales of the crossover slumped 21 percent last year to 31,290 from 39,631 in 2011.
Volvo's 2012 worldwide sales slipped 6 percent to 421,951, largely reflecting the slump in Europe but also an aging product and smaller lineup.
Volvo's refreshed 2014 flagship sedan -- the S80.
In the United States, Volvo's biggest market, volume rose 1 percent to 68,117 on higher sales of the S60 and XC60, but deliveries still fell short of the company's 71,000 target.
Volvo is spending about $11 billion on new products and powertrains to boost global sales to 800,000 by 2020.
Volvo's U.S. dealers are pressing for higher marketing and advertising outlays to spur showroom traffic and sales.
The refreshed sedans and crossovers will go on sale in June as 2014 models.
Doug Speck, Volvo Car Corp.'s senior vice president of marketing, sales and customer service, said more than 4,000 "changes" were made to the four nameplates.
The front ends of the S60 and XC60 have new lights and grilles. In the rear, the two vehicles have new integrated tailpipes.
The XC70 and S80 feature new front and rear bumpers and rectangular daytime running lights. The changes "unify the look," of the two larger vehicles, Speck said.
Changes to the interior of all four nameplates include a new instrument cluster and new seats.
The 2014 XC70 features improved off-road design cues such as skidplates that protect the car on really uneven surfaces. The protective black below the belt line has been extended to surround the front fog lights and the rear lights have also been revamped.
Volvo is also introducing a new system as part of its City Safety technology package that can now detect cyclists in addition to pedestrians. The active system automatically applies brakes to slow or stop the vehicle.
It will be available on 2014 S60, XC60, XC70 and S80. City Safety is standard on all U.S. nameplates except the XC90.
The system uses sensors to scan in front of the vehicle. If a cyclist riding in the same direction of the vehicle suddenly swerves in front of the vehicle, it can detect if a crash is imminent. An audible warning goes off and full brake power is applied, Volvo said.
Speck said at Volvo's press conference: "As the leader in automotive safety, we have been first in the industry with all detection and auto brake technologies, from the first-generation brake support in 2006 to pedestrian detection with full auto brake in 2010."
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