Last week, Volvo unveiled its new global small car strategy with two concepts: the handsome “40.1” crossover and the unusual “40.2” sedan—or notchback, as Volvo describes the high-riding four-door.
The jury’s still out if the latter atypical model will resonate with drivers, but the Chinese-owned Swedish manufacturer will bring production versions of both vehicles to the United States by 2018.
“It’s a no-brainer for us—we have been absent [from the U.S. market] for five to seven years in this segment,” Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, tells Fortune. “They will be instrumental for our volume and growth ambitions.”
Along with clean-lined styling in keeping with Volvo’s XC90 and S90 flagships, the 40 Series vehicles will be built on a platform designed for flexibility, dubbed the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which will be unique to the new small car line. It should allow for plug-and-play of key features from its bigger siblings such as active safety, semi-autonomous capabilities, and connectivity.
“We are not making a small XC90 or XC60,” says Kerssemakers, who is also senior vice president for the Americas at Volvo. “We are designing specifically for the small SUV segment. Those buyers appreciate edgier, outspoken design—with electrification, infotainment, and safety features.”
Electrification is a huge part of Volvo’s long-term strategy. In fact, the company has committed to sell one million EVs by 2025—including electric versions of the 40 Series that will have an all-electric range of 215 miles. Volvo will also offer plug-in hybrid versions.
The automaker recently made one other big pledge. Earlier this year, Volvo vowed to have no deaths or serious injuries occur in a new Volvo by 2020.
It all adds up to a lot of big promises to fulfill in a short amount of time—all while also relaunching the brand globally. The redirection is still in its early days, but signs are pointing toward the “third time’s a charm” adage as Zhejiang Geely, Volvo’s third owner (first Swedish, second Ford) has invested more than $11 billion in Volvo since acquiring it in 2010.