Volvo’s upcoming all new XC90 isn’t just one of the most important cars the Swedish automaker has ever released, it also marks the introduction of a technology that represents the future of the company, Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
SPA is Volvo’s will be Volvo’s solution to platform development, probably for the next decade, and is the company’s attempt to stay competitive despite its small size and research budget. As such SPA will maintain the same basic architecture across the entire range of Volvo products, allowing Volvo to take advantage of economies of scale.
Despite this, the flexible platform should offer Volvo engineers a great deal of flexibility in terms of wheelbase, overhang and ride and vehicle height. This is crucial, because while SPA might be debuting on the XC90 it will need to underpin Volvo’s next generation sports sedan replacement for the S60 as well as a hatchback and midsize crossover.
Volvo’s senior vice president of R&D described the flexibility of SPA as uncompromising; “SPA has enabled us to create the world’s first no-compromise SUV,” says Dr Mertens. “You get the agility of a much smaller and lower car, an in-command feel and generous interior space, plus an adrenaline rush delivered by powertrains that offer an unrivalled combination of power and low emissions.”
Helping this effort out, are Volvo’s new Drive-E powertrains which have been designed alongside the SPA platform to provide the best balance of power and economy. On the new XC90 this translates to a platform that can deliver 400 horsepower and an impressively low 60 grams per kilometer of C02 emissions.
Of course, this is Volvo we are talking about, so this platform is also designed to be safer than anything this side of a missile silo. That means extensive use of advanced materials and high strength steel.
But as interesting as all of the technical aspects of SPA are, its most captivating capabilities may be in the realm of style.
Not only was the SPA platform designed in concert with Volvo’s new powertrains, the company’s designers have been at work since day one, and the concept vehicles they have produced are stunning. And if the newly released images of the XC90’s “Thor’s Hammer” headlights are anything to go by, then the production XC90 may be the most stunning of the lot.
Digital Trends will be present at the global reveal of the XC90, and we can’t wait to see what Volvo’s future looks like.