Volvo announces shift to 4 cylinder engines by 2013

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Close-up of a Volvo V8 engine from a 2006 XC90.

Volvo has decided to produce only 4-cylinder engines (V8 pictured). (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Sfoskett/Wikipedia)

At a time when environmental consciousness, green automotive technologies and fuel efficiency are paramount, Swedish automaker Volvo is paring back engines across its lineup. According to WardsAuto, Volvo’s new engine strategy will be to only produce four cylinder engines for use across its lineup of vehicles.

Four cylinders for fuel efficiency

Six years ago, Volvo introduced the XC90 crossover utility vehicle in the U.S., notes Wards. It sported a Japanese-made 4.4-liter V8 engine from Yamaha. Now, in a move in keeping with the trend set by Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru and other brands that do not sell full-sized pickups, Volvo has decided that 4-cylinder engines are the wave of the future.

Volvo Cars U.S. President John Maloney told the automotive press during the keynote speech at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show that the global automotive market judges engines not on displacement or number of cylinders, but on fuel efficiency and specific output.

“It just makes sense from an environmental standpoint, making engines that are much more fuel-efficient,” he said. “It makes sense from a logistical standpoint, allowing us to focus our expertise in areas that yield the greatest benefit. And it makes sense from a cost standpoint: Fewer engines and fewer parts mean leaner, smarter production.”

Production shift begins in late 2013

Before the close of 2013, Volvo will introduce its latest 4-cylinder engine models, Maloney announced. Current 5- and 6-cylinder engines will be phased out within five years, as larger multi-cylinder engines haven proven to be less lucrative. The V8 XC90 is positioned toward the bottom of the pack in sales for vehicles of its class, WardsAuto 2011 sales data indicates.

Maloney believes that next-generation 4-cylinder engines will be more than enough to power Volvo’s new XC90 that is due in late 2014.

“We will do an XC90,” he said. “Clearly, we understand this segment demands a certain driving dynamic. We plan to deliver that.”

Be efficient, be thrilling

Volvo featured an XC60 plug-in hybrid concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, which sported a 280 hp turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine to go with a 52 kW, 70 hp electric motor. Maloney described the vehicle as “both efficient and thrilling to drive.”

[A four cylinder 2011 Scion tC from your Atlanta Scion dealer is also thrilling.]

Considering the amount of torque modern four cylinder diesel engines can produce, Maloney believes the Volvo luxury brand can sustain itself solely with such engines.

“I think we can if we develop the right horsepower and torque profiles out of those engines,” he said.

Volvo’s engine downsizing strategy


Chicago Tribune

Green Car Congress

Wards Auto

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