Mistakes That I Believe Volvo Is Making
Volvo Engines and Powertrain
As a long time Volvo customer I have observed mistakes I believe Volvo has made and believe Volvo continues to make. I feel that Volvo has created unnecessary issues for itself over the years such as years ago deciding to offer 6cyl Engines in S80 and XC90 T6 models (1999-2006) where Volvo had to source different transmissions to accommodate 6cyl Engines in these models. When Volvo already had 5cyl Engines that provided nearly as much HP with proven transmissions it had been using it never made sense to me.
From everything I think that I read apparently the sourced 4 speed automatic transmissions used with older 6cyl engines had serious reliability issues and I believe Volvo lost a lot of customers that swore to never buy Volvo again. Volvo already had a proven 5cyl engine that could get nearly the same horsepower and a proven transmission so why create unnecessary risk?
Volvo's later T6's such as the XC70 T6 6cyl did not have this issue and had transmissions from the original supplier Volvo was using. Volvo already had a 5cyl in S60 V70 R models that had 300HP in 2005. If they had to run less boost to increase reliability of their engines they could have had something like 280HP which would have been close enough to the later T6's 308HP.
Volvo even went to an 8cyl Engine for a short period of time which didn't make sense when Volvo could get around the same amount of horsepower out of their 5cyl and 6cyl Engines so that never seemed to make sense either.
It seemed to me that Volvo was needlessly complicating things instead of using what it already had that was capable and proven. I think Volvo should have just had a 5cyl engine with a low pressure turbo and a high pressure turbo engine option as Volvo had done with S60 and V70 models.
I am personally concerned that Volvo now going to 4cyl Engines could be a mistake. They are turbocharged and supercharged to get 316HP and I am concerned running this much boost could possibly lead to reliability issues, increased wear or engine failure over time. I feel that Volvo should have just continued the 5cyl in a more efficient direct injection version like the new 4cyl.
I feel going to a 4cyl was pointless because the amount of boost Volvo has to run when Volvo could have went with a 5cyl version with a lot less boost for the same fuel economy. When you increase boost more fuel is dumped every time you press the accelerator even a little and go into boost. I believe this is why compared to our 5cyl Volvos fuel economy has been disappointing.
Volvo was able to get 300HP out of 5cyl Turbo Engines years ago in 2005 and the additional cylinder would also eliminate the need for a supercharger. Volvo could run less boost and in my opinion fuel economy would also work out to at least the same. I believe this is what Volvo should use in the new lineup.
I think Volvo should have a 240HP and 300HP 5cyl version of the new engine and not go over this or it will reduce fuel economy. In my opinion adding the cylinder with these horsepower numbers could allow for an up to 6PSI drop for T5 models and up to 7PSI drop in T6 models. Volvo should only make the 240HP version front wheel drive to keep acceleration numbers up. Volvo could also offer an ultra fuel efficient 5cyl NON turbo engine for the 40 series.
If Volvo really wants to continue the 4cyl engine then Volvo should increase displacement to 2.4L which should allow Volvo to drop boost around 2.5PSI with the additional horsepower from the increased displacement. I think that even if fuel economy worked out about the same Volvo should eliminate the supercharger and run less boost to increase long term reliability. I will go over simple things Volvo could do to make engines more fuel efficient below.
Volvo Vehicles and Marketing
1. The 4cyl Engine turns off potential US buyers that would never consider any vehicle with a 4cyl Engine. This means Volvo is losing potential buyers. I feel like Volvo did not consider how this could turn off potential buyers and could become a marketing issue. In my opinion Volvo has this new vehicle lineup but some people won't buy just because of the 4cyl engine and instead go to the competition. It's just the perception of a 4cyl in a luxury vehicle or SUV no matter how much horsepower it has or fuel efficient it is supposed to be.
2. I think the standard steering wheel in the new lineup looks cheap and does not inspire luxury or give you that solid, secure look and feel. I didn't even say anything and my wife told me she doesn't like the new steering wheel. We have owned 10 Volvos over the years and never had a problem with the steering wheel look. I thought I remembered watching an online review and the reviewer said they wished the steering wheel had a more luxurious look and feel. How many people were turned off by this and didn't buy? Just to compare I think the steering wheel in some current Audis is much nicer.
We think the XC40 steering wheel has a better more solid serious look and that Volvo should start using that style steering wheel with the split spoke at the bottom. However that steering wheel appears to have a seam running through the middle that does not speak quality and Volvo would need to fix this before using as the standard steering wheel in every model in its new vehicle lineup. We also think the current steering wheel in the V/S/XC 60 and 90 looks much better with the split spoke at the bottom like the R-Design. This would be a quick easy improvement with something Volvo already has.
3. As long time Volvo customers we always liked the interiors because they were luxury but also had a solid, utilitarian look and feel. We feel the new Volvo interiors are starting to become a little too funky and are losing that. The two piece rim steering wheel feels cheap and uncomfortable. The shift boot looked nicer and more high end in previous models. The font where it says warning on the visor has a not very Volvo cheap look. We wish there were manual controls like a Range Rover or an Audi. Then most new Volvo interiors we see have no traditional dark wood grain which more should have. We feel the panoramic roof is something that should be an option because we would prefer to not have it. As long time Volvo owners we feel slightly alienated by the latest interiors and prefer the look of new Range Rover and Audi interiors.
4. I feel that having vehicles made in China or a Chinese brand printed on the windows will turn off US buyers that will go with competitors instead. This was one of the first things I noticed after sitting in some new Volvos and I believe it's not what most US buyers want to see in a luxury vehicle like a Volvo. I believe the only Volvos that should be made in China would be the 40 series.
Volvo Needs Better Marketing
Volvo competitors like Audi, BMW and Mercedes have commercials showing vehicles driven aggressively or tested while bragging about their vehicles and in my opinion Volvo has the most boring uninteresting commercials. There is a MotorTrend video of a 2017 V90 Cross Country being driven on a rally course. Volvo should have a commercial with a V90 Cross Country driven like that or showing the new Volvo lineup driven aggressively and tested at Volvo proving grounds to a song like Once In A Lifetime by The Talking Heads or something. Volvo needs commercials that are fun, exciting, interesting and different.
What Volvo Should Focus On
1. Volvo should slightly reduce horsepower ratings for increased fuel economy and take T5 boost down to get 240HP and make T5 front wheel drive only to keep acceleration numbers up and improve fuel economy. Volvo should take T6 down to 300HP and T8 should be taken down to a combined 380HP. I think Volvo should focus on improving real world fuel economy numbers.
2. Volvo should improve Eco Mode through reducing and staying out of boost as much as possible during normal throttle application to reduce engine fuel demand. Eco Mode should also automatically deactivate when accelerator is pressed quickly and moderately or when shifted into manual mode.
3. Volvo is now using air filters with an extra foam layer for noise reduction that I think is restrictive and adversely affects fuel economy. Volvo should go back to standard filters it had been using and other manufacturers use. I think most can accept a more aggressive engine sound for better fuel economy.
4. If Volvo really wants to be an environmental leader why not still use a catalyst coating on radiators for vehicles to help clean the air as they drive? Volvo could be using this as a marketing opportunity to present themselves as an environmental leader and stand out from its competitors. I read this only costs something like $50 per vehicle. This could easily be passed onto the consumer and therefore would cost Volvo absolutely nothing. Think of all the ground level smog this could help remove. Volvo could use this in marketing, have in commercials and is a missed marketing opportunity for Volvo.
Vehicle Features and Options
There should be a setting to retain drive mode because we get tired of having to set the drive mode over and over every time we start the vehicle and sometimes forget. Then Volvo doesn't even have an automatic emergency brake that automatically engages and disengages when shifted in and out of gear like Toyota. I don't like the way Volvo does this and we wouldn't use it. With Volvo going all screen and trying to be so tech I would think Volvo should focus on trying to simplify with less steps for drivers to have to worry about.
We would like more manual controls and feel that only having the screen with lack of manual controls can be a distraction. The climate controls through the screen are perfect and the climate control works so well in new models that you rarely have to change the settings so that is not an issue for us. However I find going through the radio station list distracting and hard to read with sunglasses or when there is a glare. The station list should be larger with a setting to not have the bar on the left of the screen which makes it too busy.
I have been very disappointed with available vehicle configurations when you go to build a vehicle on the Volvo website. For example I went to configure a V90 Cross Country but couldn't even get traditional wood grain in an over $50,000 vehicle! I then went to configure an XC90 T5 Momentum but it wanted to force me to have the round exhaust which I don't think looks very good. Then I decided to select the XC90 Inscription even though it has the T6 and can't even get dark birch wood grain and only comes with perforated seats!
Volvo Electrifying All Vehicles
I think Volvo is now pushing electrification. I thought I read something about Volvo having a goal of soon electrifying all vehicles. I believe there are a lot of people including myself that aren't interested in electric or hybrid vehicles. I believe Volvo would lose a lot of customers and potential buyers. In addition to this, if this is not perfected and there are issues down the road with new hybrid or electric vehicles then Volvo could even lose more customers. I think this would be a huge unnecessary risk to the future of the company.
If a company is going to produce some hybrid vehicles I think there should be something better than a plug in with regenerative braking. Most cars have an alternator that maintains the battery charge. I think hybrid or electric vehicles should be able to maintain the battery charge on their own though a generator that through gearing can spin at a high rate of speed and continually supply power to the battery so it would almost never need to be plugged in.
Plug in electric vehicles are presented as an environmental solution while most electricity comes from coal power plants that pollute and the batteries take a ton of energy to manufacture and create environmental waste. Sure there should be some electric or hybrid vehicles but in my opinion it would be a huge mistake and risk for Volvo to make all hybrid or electric vehicles. What happens if the batteries start bursting into flames or something? If this is all a company makes I think it could potentially put them out of business.
Volvo Driving Away Customers
1. I believe that Volvo has lost a lot of customers over the years that swore to never buy Volvo again instead of being repeat customers because of issues. I believe that Volvo needs to do a better job preventing issues in the first place to improve customer satisfaction, save money and retain customers.
For example around 20 years ago I think Volvo decided to source Electronic Throttlebody Modules (ETM's) from some Italian supplier for some vehicles instead of a supplier like Bosch and vehicles were stalling and having issues. Volvo also had the bright idea to go to a 6cyl Engine in S80 and XC90 T6 models (1999-2006) that required a different transmission Volvo had to source that I believe had serious reliability problems and premature failure when Volvo had a 5cyl Engine they could have used with a proven transmission.
2. Unfortunately I think Volvo is continuing to make decisions that are not good for business and will only drive away customers. For example I have seen complaints about premature brake pad wear on new Volvo models with brake pads being worn at only around 15,000 miles. When customers have issues like this they are probably going to never buy another Volvo. I have the feeling Volvo must have changed suppliers because Volvo brake pads and rotors for our 2005 V70 and S80 were very high quality. I just don't understand when Volvo has something great why they would complicate things.
I feel this is similar to our warranty replacement leather dash with defects like holes under the infotainment screen. I feel Volvo switched suppliers without fully inspecting and comparing with the original dashes. I believe Volvo should have mocked up the trim for the infotainment screen and dash vent trim, compared to the original dashes and should have caught the issues.
3. I already addressed the mistake I believe Volvo is making with its engines that I am personally concerned could lead to future premature failure and believe running so much boost was not the best decision. I think Volvo should play it safe when it comes to preventing issues to retain customers. If a Volvo owner experiences engine failure they will probably never buy again.
4. I believe the following kind of decisions will only help Volvo competitors. I have heard that supposedly Volvo is going to start putting cameras in all Volvo vehicles in some attempt to prevent drunk driving or something. I am surprised Volvo doesn't seem to be thinking about how this could hurt sales. When potential buyers hear about this I believe it will turn off buyers. Volvo already has collision avoidance systems with automatic braking. Volvo recently said it will put a 112MPH limit on vehicles and I think that is going to turn off buyers NOT because people drive that fast but people want to know what their vehicles can do. I believe Volvo should limit vehicles at 120MPH. If Volvo is really concerned about speed then drop the horsepower ratings and why does Volvo have 316HP and 400HP vehicles then it makes no sense. I think Volvo forgets that most people that buy Volvos are very responsible. If Volvo really wants to focus on safe driving bring back the Drive Safely campaign.
Volvo Corporate Not Listening?
I get the feeling that everything is ran through Volvo Headquarters in Sweden and that Volvo Corporate is not listening and not open to input. I am also surprised because I would think the company would not want to lose money on parts from suppliers that have defects and upset vehicle owners but I feel like nobody even inspected or compared the parts I am having a problem with. Then Volvo wasn't even sourcing defect free replacements for vehicle owners? It just makes me wonder if maybe Volvo doesn't care anymore?