The debate about what direction to take perennially struggling Volvo has been raging for years. Should the Swedish marque go upscale and try to chase other European luxury brands, or should it stick to its safety-minded knitting? Should it adopt flashy new styling and a more overt performance bent, or keep it Scandinavian clean and responsible? Chinese parent brand Geely apparently has designs on making Volvo a full-fledged BMW rival – particularly in its homeland – including pushing for a range-topping 7 Series competitor. However, Volvo execs have been repeatedly pushing back on the idea. In fact, it's understood that this philosophical crisis contributed mightily to the high-profile departure of Stefan Jacoby, the company's CEO until the middle of 2012 (Jacoby has since rebounded to head international operations for General Motors).

There doesn't seem like any middle path in this debate, but that apparently isn't going to stop Volvo from trying. According to a sprawling Reuters report, Volvo will placate Geely chairman Li Shufu with a stretched and lux'd up version of the next S80. Yet Li still isn't completely satisfied, and he's said to be pushing for "a plusher and bigger model he calls the S100" to rival cars like the Audi A8. For the moment, it is not clear if the larger S80-based model will be a global offering, or just another one of China's many home-market, long-wheelbase specials.

The question of future Volvo styling is up for debate as well. According to Reuters, "Insiders say Li is a big fan of the new styling that design chief Thomas Ingenlath has brought to Volvo" (The latest example, the Concept Coupe from this week's Frankfurt Motor Show, is shown above.) Yet there are those who worry whether the company's new styling strategy is showy enough to appeal to China's wealthy. Chairman Li would still like to see a range-topping sedan for "show-off people," but Volvo's management doesn't want to go down that road. Clearly, this won't be the last we hear about the company's existential boardroom battles.


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  • 28 Comments
      Alex740
      • 1 Year Ago
      Volvo isn't ready for an S100 model yet, at least not here in the US or Europe. Maybe in China though where the brand is still new and doesn't carry the same boxy professor family image that it does in other markets. The next S80 needs to be a knock out to raise the brands status everywhere but they should just stretch it and load it up with tech for the China market. As much as some people consider Audi to be on the same level as Merc and BMW they even have trouble selling half the number of A8s as Merc and BMW sell S and 7s. What Volvo needs here is to take a page from Audi and create a reasonably affordable halo model that raises the brands status much like the TT and the A5 did for Audi. It took Audi a several decades from the introduction of the A4 to raise their status but it can be done, just needs time, product and a unique image. And that last part is why I think Volvo needs to remain Scandinavian, chasing the Germans is a fools plan, you need to be different to really compete.
      kwa
      • 1 Year Ago
      1. make an attractive AND COMPETITIVE S80. That needs to be here like, yesterday. 2. Stretch it to appease the Chinese market, as well as European limo services. 3. Hold off on the 7 series fighter till you get the S80 right 4. Do not make the 7 series fighter sound like an old and seriously underpowered S Class (S100) 5.( Or perhaps this should be number 1)-- Do not actually underpower your future cars, and get a good drivetrain!
      pickles
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here's the deal with Volvos... they exude confidence, a hunger for function, tony restraint. The p1800 influenced Coupe is stunning but fringe. Volvo owns (even still) the upscale family mover meme. The S80, S100, S1000: Whatever. Make it for China. Volvo sedans are a long way from inspiring. The reality is that if Volvo went the other way and built THE minivan to own for every medium upscale family, it would be the new Jeep Cherokee from the 1980's that started the replacement of family cars with family trucks. If the Volvo minivan were so chic, so smart so practical that you had to have it, you'd dump SUVs for it. Volvo needs that. Then nail the mpgs. Make the practicality so much of an inarguable asset, you HAVE to get the Volvo. The bonus is the high quality, the design, the integrity ...and the safety. But safety is last. It's a given with Volvo- but also with Honda, Buick, VW... so it's no longer enough to stand on. Volvo should be the definitive family brand. Every nation has families. Every upscale family spends money on one thing first: the safety of their family. It's so obvious.
        ThatsHowIRoll
        • 1 Year Ago
        @pickles
        Bernard, what are you talking about? My C30 has been rock solid. No "reliability issues".
        Bernard
        • 1 Year Ago
        @pickles
        All of that is irrelevant if the Volvo's are in the shop more than they are on the road. Volvo needs to fix their reliability issues first. There is nothing practical about a car that doesn't run.
      Robbie
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think Volvo should put this into production. It might not sell in the volume that the brand needs to sustain itself, but when someone sees that parked at the grocery store they are going to say wow. Volvo needs a jolt to the system to show people that they are a new company with new ideas. You can't create a halo with mimetic crossovers like the XC60. Those cars are the bread and butter for sure, but they aren't a gamechanger.
      PoMoMangler
      • 1 Year Ago
      Volvo has always been a niche brand in the US. It's much nicer than your average family sedan, not as luxurious or sporty as the "true" luxury brands, and weirder than just about anything. That's what's made them so interesting, though. From a business perspective, this is not a good model--hard to make money when you are targeting an ill-defined niche. To make more money, they could go downscale, upscale, mainstream, etc. Whichever way, it would somehow seem less "Volvo."
        Mutomi Sconi
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PoMoMangler
        not as a weird as a Citroen, with their alien green/orange goo for suspension :(
      Eli
      • 1 Year Ago
      Volvo should try to fill the market niche that Volkswagen abandoned when it cheapened the Passat and Jetta. A few grand more than the mainstream models, but a few grand less than the luxury brands. Emphasize safety, but don't option up the cars so much that they approach the true luxury category. A $35,000 Volvo is an attractive option; a $45,000 Volvo, not so much
      INCREDIBLE BOB
      • 1 Year Ago
      The entire image of Volvo in Western countries is based on sensible, prudent criteria It took Audi several decades to make the 7 series sell well -- and that end of the market does not have a lot of room. Let the Chinese boss be happy with a stretched and tarted up S80
      phreshoneTX
      • 1 Year Ago
      The S80 should get the stretch no matter what - it's no bigger inside than a 1998 S70
      breitling65
      • 1 Year Ago
      looks little like Audi A5/S5 but much uglier front and rear, Volvo is cars for old farts, and should stay this way. No way they could get into sportier coupes segment as easy.
      mookieblaylock
      • 1 Year Ago
      omg is that ugly
      Snazzydude2003
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like Volvo and Chevrolet teamed up to make the next gen Camaro.
      marv.shocker
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Audi Camaro amalgam...
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