The new Volvo XC60

Soon after Volvo was bought over by Geely, the company announced during the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show that moving forward, it would be ditching its five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines, proclaiming that none of its future models will be powered by engines with more than than four cylinders.

During a press conference at the ongoing Geneva Motor Show, CEO Håkan Samuelsson admitted that even he was not completely on board with the bold idea at first, according to CarAdvice. Samuelsson only took over the reins in 2012 and hence wasn’t at the helm when Volvo proclaimed its statement of intent.

However, Gothenburg’s success with the critically-acclaimed Drive-E engine range (including the 407 hp T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid sold here), which drove down fleet average emissions and fuel consumption, has turned him around. “Absolutely, I think we’re even more committed,” he said. “Two years ago you could ask me that, and probably I would have had to answer a different way. But today, I’m absolutely convinced.”

Samuelsson said that the response to the downsized powertrains has been very positive. “Even in the US,” he said. “The XC90 was even truck of the year in the US – a big SUV with a four-cylinder engine. That’s a good indication that we took the right decision.”

He also explained why Volvo went down the route of producing smaller engines. “The number one reason is to bring down fuel consumption; you have lower friction in a smaller engine, it has better consumption. There is [also] cost, especially in installation – even if you get an engine from a partner, which we got from Ford, installing it in the car is a nightmare with all the piping and everything.”

Samuelsson added that since it moved to the modular Versatile Engine Architecture (VEA), the complexities of building cars have also decreased. “I think we had eight different engines in the old Volvo, all different and all requiring different wiring harnesses,” he said.

“That’s of course a lot of complexity – and it eats up the synergy in the base engine itself. Now we have a four-cylinder, always installed in the same way – so it’s much more modular and positive.”