Many of the world's car manufacturers have decided that flexible, modular platforms are the way of the future. Volkswagen's MQB underpins everything from the VW Golf to Audi's TT coupe, and there are more MQB-based cars to come. Volvo is keen to get in on the action with its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which will debut in the upcoming XC90 SUV and then extend across the Swedish manufacturer's range.
Volvo's scalable platform was developed totally in house and is the result of four years of work. Like VW's MQB, SPA allows Volvo to use the same platform as the basis for all of its powertrain, suspension and electrical systems, granting the potential for hybrid models throughout its range.
The economic benefits that come with scalable architecture are clear: Volvo doesn't have to develop a standalone platform for each of its new cars, which saves on development and manufacturing costs through economies of scale.
But the benefits extend beyond that, with Volvo claiming SPA allows designers more freedom to play with the overhangs and wheelbase, which leads to a better stance on the road. According to Volvo, its new platform also contributes to a better weight distribution, which will assist with handling. Being a Volvo product, safety was a focus for SPA, with high strength boron steel used extensively to allow a strong, compact structure.
Volvo is just weeks away from revealing its XC90 SUV. While Volvo has been teasing us with details about its hybrid drivetrain, interior and safety systems, we are yet to be been given a look at the car's styling.
But we now know what at least one small part of the XC90 will look like, and it involves Thor. You might be wondering how the Norse god of thunder is relevant to a Swedish SUV – we certainly were – but Volvo says the XC90's daytime running lights are based on the mythical character's hammer. Have they pulled it off? We'll let you be the judge.
The new XC90 is set for a full reveal in Stockholm later this month.