Volvo’s latest XC90 SUV is based on a modular platform called SPA (short for “Scalable Platform Architecture”) that will eventually underpin all of the automaker’s models sized from the S60 up. For everything smaller, Volvo teamed up with its Chinese parent company Geely to develop a second modular platform, this time called CMA (short for “Compact Modular Architecture").
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Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson has now confirmed to Reuters that cars based on the CMA platform will be built at the automaker’s existing plant in Ghent, Belgium, where the current V40 hatch and V40 Cross Country soft-roader derivative are built. Samuelsson said some compact cars would “probably” be produced in China as well, most likely at a plant shared with Geely.
The CMA platform will be used by Volvo for at least two models, a next-generation V40 as well as a new crossover dubbed the XC40. It’s possible that a new S40 compact sedan targeting the likes of the Audi A3, Buick Verano and Mercedes-Benz CLA is also launched at some point, though Volvo is yet to even hint at such a vehicle.
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As for the next-gen V40 and new XC40, Samuelsson said that it was a “good guess” that the V40 would come first, followed by the XC40.
While on the surface it makes more sense for Volvo to build its compact cars in China for export markets, where the country’s lower production costs could help offset the thinner margins of the cars, Volvo is still testing the waters with cars exported from China as it simultaneously attempts to transition to tier one luxury status. That's why Volvo's new compact cars brought to the U.S. will almost certainly come from the Belgium plant. Volvo has also confirmed plans for a plant in the U.S. to help strengthen its position in this market, though this plant, believed to be operational around 2018, will likely be used for larger models.