Volvo describe it as the start of a new era for Volvo Cars and the plant in Ghent, Belgium as the first customer-bound XC40 small SUV is rolls off the production line.
The new Volvo XC40 has created so much interest that the Sweden premium car maker has already received more than 13,000 orders for Volvo Cars’ first ever small SUV. The very first customers can expect to take delivery of their shiny new XC40 in early 2018.
With the release of the XC40, Volvo enters the fastest-growing segment in the industry, and the car will pave the way for increased sales and revenue growth for the Swedish car maker. Joining its larger XC60 and XC90 cousins, the XC40 completes Volvo’s global SUV line-up.
The first XC40 off the production will be welcomed by a number of high-profile guests, including Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Volvo Cars Chief Executive and President Håkan Samuelsson, and Javier Varela, Senior Vice President Manufacturing and Logistics at Volvo Cars.
“This is a proud day for Ghent, the company and all our employees here,” announced Mr Samuelsson. “Our people have put in long days and many hours to prepare the plant for the start of XC40 production and they have done a great job. The XC40 represents a bright future for Ghent and for Volvo Cars.”
The new XC40 is the first model on Volvo Cars’ new small-car platform, the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which will underpin all upcoming cars in the 40 series. The CMA platform, co-developed with Geely (Volvo’s Chinese parent company), will provide Volvo Cars with the necessary measurements and economies of scale for the small premium car segment.
Volvo’s production prep for the XC40 in Ghent have been ongoing for quite a while now. Considerable investments in recent years have transformed the Ghent plant in Belgium into a global export hub for Volvo cars and includes an 8,000 square metre addition to the body shop.
363 new robots have been installed in total and one of them has been nicknamed “the Beast” by Ghent staff. This large robot, unique within Volvo Cars’ global manufacturing system, is used to lift lower car bodies to a conveyor belt close to the ceiling of the plant.
The Belgium factory is one of two car manufacturing plants operated by Volvo around Europe and has made Volvos since 1965. It has recently stopped manufacturing the first generation of Volvo’s best-selling XC60, while the Ghent plant also builds the V40 and V40 Cross Country small hatchbacks as well as the S60 and V60.
Volvo’s other plant is located in Torslanda in its native home of Sweden. The company also operates two vehicle manufacturing plants in China, while a US plant is under construction in South Carolina and is due for completion in late 2018.