Sticking with Safety By MARK RECHTIN | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS AutoWeek | Updated: 04/09/07, 8:00 am et NEW YORK -- Volvo Car Corp. will stop selling R-badged performance models after the 2007 model year, the company confirmed. When introduced in the mid-1990s, the T5R models were intended to convince customers that Volvo was about more than safety. The lineup continued into the latest S60 and V70 mid-sized sedan and wagon. There was hope that the brand would trickle down to the S40 and V50 compacts. But R-model sales have not met expectations. Volvo sought to sell 3,800 units of the S60 and V70 performance versions annually in the United States but sold only 1,098 S60Rs and 538 V70Rs last year. Volvo said U.S. sales were the highest of any country. Fredrik Arp, Volvo Car CEO, said the automaker is not walking away from performance; it is simply deleting the moniker. He pointed to the upcoming C30 hatchback, as well as the V-8 version of the S80 flagship sedan, as evidence that Volvo is still interested in fun-to-drive cars. "We are not giving up the title feature in our products," Arp said in an interview here. "We are working on the next phase, but it will not be immediate." The S60R and V70R were equipped with 300-hp turbocharged engines and Haldex all-wheel-drive systems. They accelerated from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds. An electronically controlled chassis, mated to Ohlins shocks, kept handling stable. The goal: Dethrone the BMW M3. But hot-shoe buyers didn't cotton to buying a fast Volvo, and not enough traditional Volvo buyers were interested in a hotted-up version. Doug Speck, executive vice president of sales and retailer operations for Volvo Cars of North America Inc., called eliminating the R moniker "a hard decision." "There was a lot of passion from our owners," Speck says. "But the investment to make for that side of business, for the return we get, just wasn't good enough."