VOLVO AUSTRALIA has released its new range of diesel engines for its MY10 models, launching a new powertrain strategy and pricing structure that it hopes will boost sales in 2010.
The D5 diesel engine previously available in the C30, S40 and V50 has been replaced by the 2.0D turbodiesel, essentially a Volvo-branded version of the same engine used in the Ford Focus TDCi.
The Focus’s twin-clutch Powershift automatic gearbox has also been adopted by Volvo, and is available on all models powered by the 2.0D diesel.
A new twin-turbocharged D5 engine (a wholly different motor to the previous D5) is now offered in the XC60, XC70 and S80, and boasts improved performance and better fuel economy.
Power from the 2.4 litre D5 engine peaks at 151kW, while 420Nm of torque is available from as low as 1500rpm. Fuel consumption for the new D5 is as low as 6.2 l/100km in the XC60, while 0-100km/h times have dropped by up to a second.
The 2.0D puts out 100kW and 320Nm (identical numbers to the Focus TDCi), and in the C30 drinks 5.9 l/100km when mated to the ultra-efficient Powershift twin-clutch gearbox. Powershift-equipped S40 and V50 2.0D models consume 6.0 litres of diesel per 100km and emit 159 g/km of carbon dioxide on the combined cycle.
Thanks to the lower cost of the Ford-sourced 2.0D engine, Volvo has been able to slash retail pricing across much of its diesel range - the XC60 being the one exception. The C30 2.0D is $7000 cheaper than the C30 D5 it replaces, and sells for $37,950 before on-road costs.
The S40 and V50 also drop in price, and the lower cost of entry is designed to entice buyers into Volvo showrooms and, specifically, Volvo diesels.
While the company's SUV range enjoys a nearly 50/50 split between petrol and diesel sales, diesels are significantly less popular in its smaller cars.
Volvo hopes its new tactic of repositioning its small diesel models at a cheaper price point will stir up more sales for 2010, and reduce the company's reliance on SUVs.
Further price drops have been enabled by the dropping of the AWD system in the S40 and V50 R-Design, with both models now exclusively front-wheel-drive.
The facelifted C30 range is due to launch in March next year, and the new start-stop equipped C30 DRIVe will be added to the line-up. Pricing for the C30 DRIVe has yet to be finalised, but with a combined fuel consumption of 3.8 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 99g/km, the DRIVe is more than a match for the MINI Cooper D on specs alone.
At Volvo's launch event for its new diesel powerplants, Volvo Australia Managing Director Alan Desselss outlined the company's future powertrain plans.
Volvo's recently-announced GTDi direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine (based on Ford's EcoBoost four-cylinder) is set to join the local line-up late next year or sometime in early 2011, with the upcoming S60 earmarked as one of the first models to receive the fuel-efficient 2.0 litre engine.
The S60 will launch in November 2010, however the GTDi engine won't arrive in Australian S60s until sometime after. Other engine options will likely include the current 2.4 litre petrol inline-five as well as the new D5 twin-turbo diesel.
The S60 will be joined by a wagonised variant, the V60, in early 2011. Official images of the new V60 have yet to surface, but current indicators point to an unveiling of the production vehicle at next year's Paris Motor Show.
Powertrain options will likely mirror those of the S60, and both models will be offered with Volvo's AWD drivetrain.
Further afield, Mr Desselss expects Volvo's upcoming plug-in diesel hybrids to become available in Australia roughly six months after they debut in Europe in 2012, meaning a local release will likely occur in the first half of 2013.
He also said that a bottom-up strategy will be employed for the roll-out of Volvo's hybrid models, with the C30 and S40 to be the initial diesel-electric models on offer.
Hybrids aren't the only green option under investigation by Volvo, and an expanded line-up of DRIVe start-stop models is not out of the question for now. The C30 DRIVe will test the waters and gauge buyer reaction to the technology, but if it proves popular then Volvo can quickly send more DRIVe variants to Australia.
"Virtually all models except the XC90 are available in Europe with start-stop," Mr Desselss said to TMR.
"Even the S80."
However, while start-stop is one avenue Volvo Australia is willing to explore, E85-compatible models are low on its list of priorities.
"E85 in this country is pointless at this stage," Mr Desselss said, pointing out that a lack of E85 distribution infrastructure was the main hurdle.
"Drivers need to be able to drive from station to station in order to make E85 a realistic proposition here."
Mr Desselss pointed out that the electrification of the automobile held greater promise and offered more benefits to urban drivers.
According to Desselss, recent testing of a battery-electric C30 prototype would probably lead to a productionised version sometime in 2014, however the company would not ignore other green technology to focus on electric cars.
"We're not hanging our environmental message on any single solution right now," Mr Desselss said.