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Commitment to all-wheel drive gives Volvo new market traction


For immediate release


Since the Volvo Car Corporation made a commitment to producing automobiles with all-wheel drive, both the number of AWD models and the share they represent of total sales for Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd. have increased dramatically.


For 2004, Volvo Canada will offer seven models and variants with all-wheel drive: S60 AWD and S60 R sedans, V70 AWD and V70 R wagons, rugged XC70 wagon and sophisticated XC90 sport utility vehicle, and S80 AWD luxury sedan. The S60 R, V70 R and S80 AWD are new for model year 2004.


Volvo Canada first tested the all-wheel drive waters in 1997 with the Volvo 850 wagon and in1998 the company produced the Volvo V70 wagon AWD version, and later with the first generation Cross Country (XC70). About 1,000 units were sold in 1998 (vs. about 6,000 front-wheel drive versions). The S70 AWD sedan was added in 1999.


Sales of all-wheel drive vehicles fell briefly in 2000 as new models on the Volvo large car platform replaced the high-volume sedan and wagon entries, but quickly accelerated with the introduction of the second generation Cross Country (XC70) in 2001. Sales moved ahead quickly with the introduction in 2002 of the S60 AWD and V70 AWD, and again with the launch of the XC90 SUV.


For the 2003 calendar year, the company expects that all-wheel drive versions will account for more than 5,000 units sold or about 52 per cent of the year's total volume. Significantly, nearly half (45 per cent) of S60 sedans will be equipped with the AWD feature.


To support the popularity of the AWD feature, Volvo Car Corporation announced that production capability for all-wheel drive components would be increased. In cooperation with the German transmission company Getrag, Volvo Cars will invest C$190 million in expanded capacity at a plant in Sweden.


The technology that delivers drive to all four wheels has also been revised and adapted since its introduction. In 2002, Volvo Cars adopted a new, electronically-controlled technology that effectively distributes the power back and forth between the front and rear wheels, according to traction conditions and the unit's programming for the vehicle. For example, the technology seamlessly shifts power to the rear wheels of the S60 AWD sedan when it senses a loss of traction in the front wheels, providing safe and predictable traction in slippery road conditions. In the S60 R performance sedan, the same technology is programmed to enhance handling and performance for sporty driving.


Volvo AWD /2

One of the keys to the successful system is the evolution of the centre coupling between the front and rear wheels, the technology that manages power delivery. Built by Haldex of Sweden, the system features a 'wet clutch' and integral high pressure pump that provides nearly instantaneous power transfer, varying from 5 to 95 per cent of available torque, depending on the traction available and the computer control's programming. Different versions of the technology are used in the various Volvo AWD models.




Doug Mepham

MacDonald & Co.


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