Volvo XC90 First Edition 03

Volvo is aiming to significantly reduce development time on its new cars – even undercutting more established carmakers – once its two new modular platforms have been fully implemented, according to a report by Automotive News.

The company’s R&D head, Peter Mertens, said that the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) – which is set to underpin compact cars like the V40’s successor – will eventually enable Volvo to build all its cars in just 20 months, less than half of the 42 months it took to develop the current V40. This figure compares very favourably to companies like Toyota and Mazda, which have lead times of around 26 months.

The CMA platform is jointly developed with parent company Geely, and is claimed to have the “bandwidth” to accommodate both competitively priced offerings from Geely and Volvos with “all of the attributes” of the Swedish brand.

The all-new Volvo XC90 Twin Engine powertrain

Supplementing the compact car platform will be the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that will form the basis of larger Volvos like the new XC90, which will reach European dealerships beginning in June. That car took 30 months to develop; it is said lead times on SPA-based cars will eventually also drop to 20 months.

Mertens also elaborated on Volvo’s move away from Ford-derived technology, saying that the company has “thrown away” everything, sticking to its own Drive-E family of turbocharged and supercharged three- and four-cylinder engines as well as just four transmissions – an eight-speed automatic, a six-speed automatic, a manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for smaller cars.

By way of comparison, Mertens claimed the company utilised at least eight different engine families and more than a dozen transmissions during its Ford era. “We have now finally cut all the strings,” he said. “That is a good step.”