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Just days after Geely purchased Volvo from Ford, the Chinese automaker's chairman, Li Shufu, proclaimed that the Swedish automaker needed a 7 Series fighter. Shufu's idea makes a lot of sense, at least in the large car-loving China market, where Volvo leadership wants to push a lot more metal. But when Shufu stated that Volvo needed to go big, he admitted that he needed to sell the idea to the company's new board. According to Autocar there is at least one very important vote that doesn't like the idea – at least not yet.

New Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby reportedly called the idea of a Volvo that can go toe to toe with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class "a step too early." The British site claims that Jacoby prefers to hold off on going further upscale until after Volvo reaches its goal of 800,000 sales per year within the next five years.

So who's right here? Shufu undoubtedly knows the China market very well, and he's thinking that the key to China's collective heart comes in the form of a sedan with a lot of rear leg room. Jacoby, on the other hand, is taking a more pragmatic approach; use the company's funds to spur overall growth and then look upmarket once the company reaches its volume goals. Add in the fact that Jacoby already experienced first-hand how tough it can be to bring a new large luxury vehicle to market (Volkswagen Phaeton, anyone?), and we can see why the new Volvo CEO is preferring to play it slow.

[Source: Autocar | Image: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall/AFP/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree with mr. Jacoby, and Volvo must work hard to improve the S80 before releasing a bigger sedan.

      but can the next generation switch back to RWD, please? I'm tired of cost-saving platform sharings at upmarket brands, and since Volvo does not belong to Ford anymore it is time to pursue an own architecture. Hyundai made its platform and it seems to be going pretty well. a RWD platform to base the 3rd-gen S80, and next generations of XC90 and C70 would be a giant step to match the 5-series and the E-Class.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does Volvo offer a true E-class competitor? At this point, I'd sooner get a Genesis or Equus before an S60 or S80.

      I like Volvo...hated that the brand was misused/underfunded/underdeveloped by Ford...but I'm not sure they'll be competitive at the S-class level.

      However, would it matter in China? Their economic boom may blind the many pockets interested in buying something big and new. Maybe just having something to sell in that size category and price-range is enough to possibly sustain production costs and earn solid profits.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd say the S80 more than competes with the S class depending on the buyer's objectives. I'd contend the interior of the S80 is better in just about every way than the E class I recently shopped. The materials were better, the seats were far better, the sound system was heads and shoulders better, and the simple scandanavian elegance was a nice change to another me-too interior. That being said, on a dynamic front, the S80 is left sitting between the E350 and E550. 0-60 in slightly less than 6 is quick and enough for most people, but it certainly won't touch a 550 or E63. If one's goals are comfort and all weather prowess for long travels, in addition to good reliability (Volvo beat Lexus this year btw...the newer stuff is pretty solid), the Volvo is likely the better choice. If an athletic sedan is a high priority, the Benz is likely a better bet. You can really haul a$# to the service garage in the new Benzes!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry guys...meant to say E class. The S class is still a class of it's own. I think Volvo needs to continue in their current fields before invading that field. I think an S80R would be interesting. I've heard rumblings of a 400-450 HP version of the current 6 being tested. Combined with aggressive suspension and a beefed up version of the Haldex, I think it would be pretty sweet.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe Volvo can an alternative luxury vehicle. Take a minimalist Scandinavian approach to luxury. Something that doesn't try or need to keep up with the Joneses like the S-Class tries to do by include every bell and whistle. Make a car with an extremely comfortable ride and beautiful design.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "minimalist luxury"

        nuff said.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Simple Car
        I like it!
        Something with a flat box design?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Volvo needs a car to compete in that size range with gizmos accordingly. I mean if VW can sell the phaeton worldwide, so can Volvo.

        Volvo may have to message the hell out of its existing tech. I mean the new Volvo S60 is about 2 inches shorter then the S80 wheelbase and finally sized well enough to go against the 3 Series, and C-Class, IS250/IS350, G25/G35, Cadillac ATS . And I thought the Volvo S60 was rumored for a wheel base stretch for China anyways.

        The S80 should get its version of the revised Lincoln MKT and Ford Taurus wheelbases at about 117.90 in LWD and 112.90 in SWD. This platform itself was based of the current gen S80 so it seems like a no brainer and maybe even something Volvo has intellectual property over before the Ford and Volvo divorce. I think a T6 and V8 with AWD version of this car would match up nicely to the new comp:

        5 series at 116.90
        E-Class at 113.20
        Audi A6 at 111.90 (115.9 in LWB)
        Infiniti M at 112.20
        Jaguar XF at 114.50
        Cadillac CTS at 113.40
        Hyundai Gensis at 115.60

        So its plausible than the S80 will compete well (size wise) with the Mid level cars. But that leaves no answer for the S-Class/7-Series level.

        I'd suggest something simple and without a heavy investment, get market pentration, and worry about evolving the product once you have a business model. So where to get a cheap platform with a long wheelbase and proper load carrying capacity. I can think of none other than a Ford Transit Van (available SWB, MWB, and LWB.) It has the load capacity, probably wide enough and long enough. I'm not saying it would make an amazing dynamic car, but for the first go around (think Lexus LS400) its a cheap place to start with a RWD chassis capable of AWD as well. It would deffinitly have to do a ton of chassis tuning, but that is something Volvo is capable of.

        It would probably be extremely economical as far as a platform is concerned although no guarantees it is the most dynamic place to start. But I cant think of anything worse then to not try or try with a huge investment and fail.

        And Ford and Volvo will still probably share a decent amount of platforms for a while. Afterall the V8 was a gift from Ford, and I'm sure Volvo could always comission Yamaha to do another revision to this motor with a possible Twin Turbo setup. After all a 4.4l V8 Twin Turbo is up to par with the latest:

        Mercedes 4.7l V8 Twin Turbo @ 429HP & 516LbFt.
        BMW 4.4l V8 Twin Turbo @ 400HP & 450LbFt.
        Jaguar has the 5.0l V8 Supercharged @ 470HP & 424LbFt. (not counting R)
        Audi supposedly has a 4.0lV8 Twin Turbo @ 450HP

        If the current Yamaha/Volvo 4.4l V8 does 311HP & 325LbFt, to get to at least 400HP and 425LbFt via Forced Induction doesn't seem hard at all.

        And they would deffinitly have the best bargain value for size (which is what half the world will look at...)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Problem is, China doesn't want "a minimalist Scandinavian approach to luxury". They want those bells and whistles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Smart man.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Now may not be the right time for such a car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why do the Chinese need "a lot of rear legroom?"
        • 4 Years Ago
        Because the market for chauffeured vehicles is much larger in China, which is why long-wheelbase versions of vehicles like the BMW 5-series sell well there.

        I assume you were trying to make a crass joke about how Chinese people are short? Shame on you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think Volvo needs to jump into the big-boy waters with a 7-Series or S-Class clone just yet—they may be ready at some point down the road, but they'd be jumping the shark to launch something like that right now.

      BTW, Li Shufu should be referred to on second reference as Li, Mr. Li, or Chairman Li, not Shufu, unless we are to start getting all chummy and referring to Stefan Jacoby as "Stefan" on second reference. Li is the Geely chairman's surname, and Shufu is his given name—it's the reverse order of what we're used to in the West.

      (In a quirk of publishing/journalistic style, we accord Chinese and Korean names the honor of keeping their native order, surname first, when writing in English, but we don't do the same with Japanese or Hungarian names, which also—in Japanese and Hungarian—are surname-first. But that discussion belongs on another blog. :-) )
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is a clash of ideals. A fight where conservative and disciplined business approach clashes with the optimistic, ambitious & risky ideals. One the one corner is Stefan Jacoby and on the other corner is Li Shufu. Guess who will win ? I predict that Stefan Jacoby will win for now.

      Volvo just came out of a bad situation. The new CEO's main aim should be to stabilize the company and provide a solid foundation for future growth. They need to take a conservative approach to growth. Their current strategy is 'No accidents by 2020' and they should stick to it. After reaching that target, maybe they can come up with a S class rival by 2025.

      I do believe that coming up with 7 series rival or the S class rival is possible. These two cars have become a 'trend follower' rather than a 'trend setter'. Most of the innovations are provided by the component manufacturers. All that you need is to buy the components and parts from these suppliers and screw them together for a S class rival. Make no mistake, these are awesome cars, but from manufacturing point of view, it is just more expensive parts. Maybe a bit expensive, but certainly possible.

      All that these cars sell is an image. Everyone from thugs, mass murderers, rapists and serial killers to successful rich men buy these cars for the image. Mercedes claims that they don't sell cars. They sell an image. I wonder what kind of image does Volvo have ?

      Conclusion: Before Volvo takes on Mercedes or BMW, stabilize Volvo's situation first.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds about right. Go drive a volvo. Go drive a competing Audi. BMW. Mercedes. the Volvo products just don't feel like their competing across the board. Don't get me wrong, their little cuv's pretty cool, I'd pick it over the x3 if I wasn't a q5 fan, but across the board I don't think volvo's proven they can step toe to toe with the big boys. They're improving, just not as rapidly as say ford or hyundai in their respective segments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Alex740 - eggsactly. I didn't quite mean the quantum leap but rather that ford/hyundai seem to have all their ducks in a row across the board, and volvo needs to be there too before they hop in the most competitive pool in the luxury segment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, Volvo hasn't made the quantum leap of Ford and Hyundai but they don't need to either, they have to go from very good to excellent. let's also not forget that Volvo is partly responsible for Ford's fantastic cars lately, those platforms, safety ratings and AWD systems, and in some cases engines and turbos are pure Volvo.

        As for competing against the big boys, you are right, they aren't there yet but the interiors of the new models (S80, S60 & XC60) are definitely on par with the other brands and Volvo's reliability ratings the past couple of years have been much higher. So they have some aspects working in their favor but they have to start with the small models and then work their way up, to jump into 7 series territory would be a bad move.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Make a proper 5-series competitor, only then can you start talking about making a 7-series/S-class competitor.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure that the Queen of the Netherlands, who rides in the back of an S80, would appreciate a larger Volvo...
      ...perhaps Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden too.

      But I can't imagine anyone else wanting a massive Volvo - That's what the Audi A8 is for.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well Volvo doesn't make the A8 so why wouldn't they want to steal some of that market eventually? Ask someone in 1995 if they would want to drive a large Audi and they would say no too, now look at Audi. Volvo has had a consistently larger following than Audi until very recently here in the states, with the right strategy and products they could go up market in time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If Volvo builds a proper 7-competitor, the Chinese will buy it. No Americans, and only a handful of Europeans would. But the Chinese don't know Volvo, so Volvo has a chance there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Perhaps they could do an LWB S80 for the Chinese market with minor styling revisions, and call it the S90? I think that would serve as a good stopgap.

      They also need to drop the S40/V50. The S40's always been kind of pointless with the S60 available, and now with a V60 as well, there's no reason for either car. A five-door C30 would be a much better model to have on sale.

      One thing's for sure, if they really want to sell anything, they need a better ad campaign. This whole Naughty Volvo thing is one of the most rubbish campaigns I've ever seen.
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