“In a vision statement, Volvo boldly predicted that no person will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.”

You’ll probably see, hear and read much about an all-new Volvo called the XC90 in the coming months.

The XC90 will be the first completely new, all-Volvo vehicle in a very long time and that’s mainly because of what’s been happening, behind the Volvo logo, in recent years.

The XC90 is the first vehicle built on a new and adaptable “SPA” chassis structure designed for large and midsize vehicles. “The XC90 is the first of eight new models within the next three years that will be built on this new adaptable platform,” said Marc Engelen, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of Canada Corp.

Volvo is also currently working to a new “CMA” small car platform. It will underpin and spawn a new generation of smaller vehicles and, according to Engelen, some of these will also be coming to Canada. Good news for Volvo fans who lament the discontinued importation of its smaller 30 and 40 series vehicles.

The first production Volvo car was made in Sweden way back in 1927. Designed to survive the country’s rough roads and cold temperatures, it was nicknamed “Jakob”. Structurally strong vehicles with highest level of passenger safety have become fundamental Volvo qualities and the brand has a “Designed around you” build philosophy.

Marc Engelen has been with Volvo for 22 years and served the company in Sweden, Germany and Belgium before accepting the Canadian leadership appointment in 2012. He was part of the Volvo negotiation group that led to the Zhejiang Geely Holding of China takeover of Volvo Cars, in 2010.

The trucking, heavy duty and marine sides of the business are now under separate ownership, called AB Volvo. Both companies share the Volvo brand name and logo and co-operate in running the Volvo Museum.

Prior to 2010, Volvo was under Ford Motor Company ownership, as part of its now defunct Premier Automotive Group, which also included Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover.

“When Ford took over they brought in a lot of Ford managers to align Volvo with Ford systems, procedures and processes,” said Engelen “Since the 2010 takeover, Geely has not appointed even one manager to Volvo Cars (outside of China, where it operates two Volvo production facilities).

Geely has invested heavily in Volvo Cars and as long as the company continues to deliver on its long-range strategy plan, it does not plan to interfere with current operations. “We are now responsible for our own destiny,” explained Engelen. “They have been pouring money, resources and investments into the company.”

The big items on the Volvo restructuring shopping list were to have its own platforms, its own engines and its own electrical architecture.

“Our digital systems are intuitive,” added Engelen. “You shouldn’t need a manual in order to understand your car … and you know every car has a big manual. Everything should be simple and intuitive. You shouldn’t have to go through fifteen menus to do something.”

In a vision statement, Volvo boldly predicted that no person will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

“Our XC90 is already semi-autonomous (if you can say that),” according to Engelen. “We do require a driver to have hands on the steering wheel, although this car can drive itself (provided the road infrastructure is compatible). It doesn’t matter if it rains or snows or its night. Our new auto-braking systems can recognise pedestrians, cyclists and even animals bigger than 60 cm.”

Volvo car sales were down by four per cent in Canada in 2014, however, but this was not unexpected as a couple of models were dropped from the product line.

Redesigned and new editions of the S60 and the V60 have been added for 2015, in addition to XC90. Sales growth this year and for the next five years is forecast to be in the 20 to 25 per cent range, according to Engelen.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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