Ford says Volvo's not for sale, and the Blue Oval would be smart to hold on to its remaining vestige of the Premier Auto Group as long as it can, especially since engineering and platforms have become so entwined with Dearborn's product line. For its part, Volvo is angling to take on the high end Germans. Volvos have long been premium products, having built a reputation on exceptional durability, meticulous engineering, and of course, safety. Try as it might, however, Volvo has a hard time competing head on with BMW, Audi and Mercedes. The cachet of the Swedish automaker is diminished compared to the Germans, and dynamically, Volvos tend to get schooled hard despite being good, capable drivers when taken alone.

Operations chief Steven Armstrong tells Automotive News that Volvo is looking to be mentioned in the same breath as its intended targets, even as losses mount and layoffs ensue. Volvos already occupy the same pricing arena as the premium Germans, but that's partly due to a weak dollar and transport costs. The possibility of building its cars in the United States might bring prices down and allow better developed performance versions, versus the outclassed R models of the past. Also hurtful is the model range's appetite for fuel -- we've gotten mileage in the teens from some Volvos in the Autoblog Garage. Armstrong says that the fuel economy issue will be addressed soon as technologies like start-stop, energy recovery from braking, and further down the road, hybrid powertrains are brought to market. Green is a good way for Volvo to go, given the Scandinavian proclivity for low-impact, gentler consumption. What it all means is that soon, we may see a kinder, gentler, meaner, faster Volvo product lineup -- possibly managed by Russian, Chinese, or Swedish owners.

[Source: Automotive News – sub req.]

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