Even though inline five- and six-cylinder engines are the mainstay of Volvo's current powertrain offerings, the future is focused solely on four-cylinder engines for the automaker's lineup of cars and crossover vehicles.
"We will start to introduce four-cylinder engines in the later part of next year, so late 2013. But it will probably be five years before it is exclusively four-cylinder engines at Volvo," John Maloney, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, said during the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
As first reported by AEI during the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show (http://www.sae.org/mags/aei/10284), Volvo is rationalizing its passenger vehicle engine families on a common I4 architecture. The move will enable the automaker, a unit of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, to meet more stringent global CO2 standards while maintaining performance.
Volvo's most potent engine currently is the 3.0-L turbocharged I6, which powers the S60 R-Design sports sedan as well as the XC60 R-Design crossover.
"That engine's 325 hp is the highest horsepower that Volvo has ever had in its history," Maloney said. "We've never been a 400-, 500-, 600-hp brand. That's why we feel confident in the four-cylinder strategy. We believe the four-cylinder engine can deliver the absolute kind of power that we need."
He noted that the move to downsized I4s will simplify the powertrain range dramatically, while gaining the economies of scale that are critical for a relatively small manufacturer, and provide a fuel-economy benefit—"an overriding priority" in the context of future fuel economy standards, said Maloney.
Volvo's move to an exclusive I4 portfolio, with turbocharged versions part of the mix, will apply to all markets where the automaker sells light passenger vehicles. "Essentially it will be a single-family architecture for petrol and a single-family architecture for diesel with various performance outputs," he noted.
Product development work on the new I4 family is occurring at Volvo Car Corp.'s facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden.