Volvo to Adopt Scalable Platform Architecture

The technology incorporates several platforms on which vehicle clusters, or groupings of complete car models, are based. In today's model range, the Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 form one cluster.

Byron Pope, Associate Editor

September 28, 2011

4 Min Read
Volvo to Adopt Scalable Platform Architecture


FRANKFURT – Volvo Car touts its Concept You, recently unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show, as a signal of its future Scandinavian design direction. But what’s under the skin may reveal more about the auto maker’s future.

Volvo says the Concept You fullsize sedan reveals how its new Scalable Platform Architecture opens up design possibilities and offers technological and industry advantages.

Volvo Concept You.

SPA allows the auto maker to build both medium to large cars on the same production line. It also will provide economies of scale, helping reduce costs.

The SPA technology incorporates several platforms on which vehicle clusters, or groupings of complete car models, are based. In today's model range, for example, the Volvo S60, V60 and XC60 form one cluster.

“SPA gives us a fresh technological start,” says Peter Mertens, senior vice president-research and development. “When the first SPA model is launched in a few years’ time, about 90% of its components will be new and unique. We will be fully on par with the very toughest competitors.”

Volvo’s SPA also will reduce vehicle weight, helping the auto maker meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions standards.

The new architecture utilizes high-strength steel in combination with considerable amounts of aluminum in the front structure, doors, chassis and powertrain. Using lightweight materials will result in models that are 220-330 lbs. (100-150 kg) lighter than current vehicles of the same size, the auto maker says.

SPA also enables electrification on all levels, from start/stop technology to pure electric drive, without interfering with passenger and cargo space.

The packaging efficiency will support more-attractive design proportions and let Volvo fully realize its new design philosophy, which is based on better leveraging its Scandinavian heritage, says Peter Horbury, vice president-design.

“It shows the close cooperation between designers and engineers,” he says.

In another move to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy, Volvo says it will launch a new engine range dubbed Volvo Environmental Architecture.

VEA consists entirely of 4-cyl. engines, which the auto maker says will come in various configurations and benefit from electrification and other “spearhead” technology.

“It’s time to stop counting cylinders,” Mertens says. “We’re aiming to develop 4-cyl. engines with higher performance than today’s 6-cyl. units, along with lower fuel consumption than the current-generation 4-cyl. engines.”

VEA will include both modular diesel and gas engines, featuring common-rail and direct-injection technologies, respectively. The number of unique parts will be reduced 60% compared with today’s engines, Volvo says.

Turbocharging will play a large role in boosting performance without sacrificing fuel economy, the auto maker says, noting there will be several levels of turbocharging, depending on the application.

Volvo says the new powertrains will be 198 lbs. (90 kg) lighter than current ones, and fuel economy will be improved up to 35%. The new powertrains are expected to meet all known emissions regulations worldwide up to 2017.

The modular-engine format will be based on a standard of 0.5L per combustion chamber, which Volvo says will optimize thermodynamics.

“At present, engine installation varies with each car model,” Mertens says. “With this holistic solution, tomorrow’s technology development can focus entirely on engine performance instead of diverting attention to installation modifications.

“What’s more, assembly in the factory will be easier,” he adds. “The development costs are initially high, but after that they drop sharply.”

Also planned is a new 8-speed automatic transmission, and Volvo later this year plans to test the potential of flywheel drive, which could increase efficiency even further.

The auto maker’s Flywheel Kinetic Energy Recovery System is fitted to a car’s rear axle, while the engine drives the front wheels.When brakes are applied, captured kinetic energy causes the flywheel to spin at up to 60,000 rpm.

When the car begins to move again, the flywheel’s rotation is transferred to the rear wheels via a specially designed transmission unit. The setup allows the power of the engine and flywheel system to be applied to all four wheels.

The stored energy in the flywheel can be used to launch the car or power the vehicle once it reaches cruising speed, Mertens says.

“This system offers the driver an additional 80 hp, giving a 4-cyl. engine the acceleration of a six,” he says. “It has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%.”

[email protected]

About the Author(s)

Byron Pope

Associate Editor, WardsAuto

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like