When the current generation of the V50 was introduced in 2003, Volvo Cars had its sights firmly set on younger buyers with high demands on sportiness and premium feel.
The new Volvo V50 and S40 are making a joint entry onto the market with considerably refined design. A range of new features further sharpens their competitive edge in the hunt for discerning young car buyers.
"When the S40 and V50 were introduced almost four years ago, we emphasised that they gave buyers the properties of the larger Volvo models but in a more compact format. Now we're taking this approach one step further by increasing the ‘grown-up' quality perception even more. At the same time we are accentuating the differences between the two models. The new S40 moves closer to the Volvo S80 while the new V50 is more like the new Volvo V70," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Fredrik Arp.
Fresh figures from both the US and Europe show that the company's focus on younger target groups has made a significant contribution to sales.
Buyers under 35 years up by more than 20 percent
It's the figures for the USA that are most noteworthy:
"What is more, the reasons for choosing the S40 are much more emotional than before. Today's buyers speak enthusiastically of its sporty design and driving pleasure. We're also increasingly winning the image and prestige match against our toughest competitors," reveals Fredrik Arp.
In Europe, the proportion of V50 buyers whose main alternative was a premium car such as the large German makes is now touching 47 percent - compared with 24 percent for the previous Volvo V40.
The proportion of customers younger than 44 years has risen by ten percent from 45 to 55 percent. And in Europe too, it is the more emotional reasons for purchase that are gaining ground among V50 buyers, more of whom are families with children than in the case of the S40.
Both design and technical refinements in the new V50 focused on improving the model's already highly appreciated characteristics and on tackling weaknesses identified by customers, for instance when it comes to interior storage space.
"The design team exploited every available cubic centimetre in an intelligent way. The all-new design of the centre console and the door inside panels, for instance, has increased storage capacity and added even greater flexibility to the interior," explains Fredrik Arp.
Sharper driveline range
The driving characteristics are already among the most renowned strengths of the two models.
One new feature is that the T5 engine gets a performance hike of 10 horsepower, giving an output of 230 hp. There are also five other petrol engine versions available, plus a bio-ethanol Flexifuel variant:
Diesel engines, which account for 55 percent of S40 and V50 sales in Europe and 25 percent in total, are available in three versions:
One change here is that during the second half of 2007 the D5 engine will also be available with a manual gearbox, offering the driver no less than 400 Nm of torque compared with the automatic transmission's 350 Nm. This engine is one of the first to meet the expected Euro 5 European exhaust emission levels.
The E85-powered (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent petrol) Flexifuel variant producing 125 hp is becoming increasingly competitive. The Volvo S40 and V50 Flexifuel are sold in nine European countries and in 2007 account for 8 percent of these models' total sales.
Now with active headlights
When it comes to safety, the new V50 comes with several new features:
Audio system of world class
The new V50 can be specified with an audio system of absolute world class.
The most advanced of the three systems, Premium Sound, has a digital amplifier from Alpine, Dolby® Pro Logic II Surround and loudspeakers from Dynaudio of Denmark.
In the High Performance and Premium Sound systems it is possible to play CD discs with music in MP3 or WMA format. This means that the CD changer can store several hundred music tracks and give the owner access to his or her own private home music library even while on the move.
What is more, all the audio systems now come with an extra socket (AUX) for connection of other equipment such as a portable MP3 player. USB and iPod connectors are available as accessories.
One-third of total Volvo Cars sales together with Volvo S40
The target for the new Volvo V50 is 70,000 cars annually. Here 85 percent of sales are in Europe, with Germany, Sweden, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands being the largest individual markets.
The sales target for the new Volvo S40 is 75,000 cars per year.
The USA is the largest single market with one-third of total sales, while in 2007 China will advance to second place owing to local production of about 8,000 Volvo S40s. The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Sweden are the largest S40 markets in Europe.
"The Volvo S40 and V50 not only account for one-third of our total sales volume in 2007; they also play a vital role in reinforcing the Volvo brand. The new models sharpen their competitiveness in every important area and I am convinced that together with the new C30, they will attract even more new and younger buyers," says Fredrik Arp.