DETROIT -- Volvo's C30 three-door hatchback is the Swedish automaker's first attempt at a small car in more than 20 years, and the company is struggling with the right ingredients.
In little more than a year, the C30 will be sold here. Yet Volvo Cars of North America still has not determined which engine will power the vehicle, how the C30 will be equipped and how it should be priced.
The issues are critical because Americans have not embraced most small premium vehicles in recent years. Volvo's U.S. executives, interviewed here at the North American International Auto Show, where the C30 Design Concept was shown, want a powerful, well equipped car. But will it then be too expensive?
Volvo executives say the company is considering three avenues for the U.S. edition of the C30. But they can select only one because of limited volumes expected here. The choices, with estimated prices, include:
Anne Belec, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, says the car must have "a purity of concept." She is against equipping the vehicle as "small, cute and with a base engine."
She says: "It needs a great powertrain, great audio and great wheels. It's important for people to not think of it as a small car because then they expect small power and a small price."