Volvo:

Volvo Growth Strategy – New Management, New Strategy, New Drive-E Powertrains, New Vehicles

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Volvo Growth Strategy: Tony Nicolosi, new President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America says 90% of the senior management of VCNA is new since he took over in October 2013. Volvo’s marketing strategy is also going to change with the arrival in January of Bodil Eriksson as executive vice president of marketing and new advertising agency Grey London starting in March. Nicolosi says Volvo will return to its roots emphasizing safety, the environment and the family. The marketing budget for 2014 is bigger by about 50% but its emphasis will shift away from television to digital messaging.

Prior to becoming head of VCNA, Nicolosi was head of Volvo Finance in the USA, so he is very familiar with the leasing game. About 42% of Volvos are leased, well short of the leasing penetration of Audi, BMW or Mercedes. Going forward, Volvo’s lease penetration should increase with more concentration on more car for the payment and regular replacement. This will give Volvo dealers the first shot at putting off-lease customers into a new Volvo.


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Volvo XC70 Most Ideal 2012 Luxury Crossover SUV

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OK, OK, you might not put the Volvo XC70 in an SUV class, but Volvo has gone to lengths to give the XC70 SUV cues and it pulls them off pretty well.  And, Volvo describes the XC70 as a “crossover”, so, QED.  The XC70 outpoints the second place Audi Q5 by over 50 rating points.

AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  To score well shows the product planning and design team understand the vehicle’s buyers very well and have executed the product to meet those standards.

Volvo XC70 Dominates Audi Q5 in IVA Win: The 2012 Volvo XC70 comes closest to the ideal of any Luxury Crossover SUV.  The XC70 outpoints the second place Luxury XSUV – the Audi Q5 – by 52 rating points.  In fact, eighty-percent or more of XC70’s owners would not change fourteen of fifteen major characteristics of their vehicle.

Any time over 90% of an owner group wants a characteristic to remain the same, the maker has hit its target dead center.  Ninety-percent-plus characteristics in the XC70 include:  exterior size, exterior styling, driver’s seat visibility, driver’s seat comfort, wheels, and safety features.

The only area lacking is interior storage compartments – 27% of XC70 owners want more interior storage.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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Patrick Paternie

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I probably was the last person to ride with Patrick Paternie on a new vehicle evaluation.  Patrick passed away on March 10 following a race in his classic Porsche.

Patrick Paternie: Volvo Chili Cook-Off, Scottsdale, March 8, 2010

I spent two days riding in Volvos with Patrick.  He had sought me out to be his co-driver and I looked forward to his commentary and stories.  I knew he was a good driver and would never take risks that so many of the hot-shots on these press previews sometimes take.

Patrick regaled me with stories of how he and his wife Linda towed a big trailer behind a Suburban in Arizona and there just wasn’t enough oomph in the big SUV to keep up with traffic with the trailer following behind.  He talked about how Linda had come to like riding  in his Ford pickup because of all the room in the cab.  He was especially complimentary about a drive with the Aston Martin Rapide in Alaska.  He said the Rapide was much more capable than he would ever have thought.  The folks at Aston Martin admit the car has been “placed at a considerable discount”.  He travelled widely for his passion.  I was jealous.

We talked about heart surgery I had undergone last November.  “How did you know you had a problem,” he asked.  “Sprained ankle,” I replied.  That got me to the doctor’s office and to get a physical my medical insurance provides every year.  Surgery followed a few weeks later.

Patrick never alluded to having a heart problem.  He looked fit and healthy.  He raced.  He finished.  He was 65.  We miss him.


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Polestar Volvos – Look for the Blue Rectangle

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Volvo means safety, right?  Absolutely.  But Volvo is no longer alone atop the safety universe.  Other vehicles have achieved similar safety ratings and prospective buyers need additional reasons to consider a Volvo than its safety reputation.  To solve this conundrum, Volvo Cars of North America turned to Swedish tuner Polestar.

Look for the Polestar Rectangle

In 1996, Volvo began a long-term relationship with a Swedish performance tuner – Polestar.  Polestar souped up Volvos for the European racing circuit.  And, now, Polestar has come to the USA through the offer of a chip enhancement for Volvo sedans and XSUVs.  Polestar can either be added at the Volvo port or as an accessory by your friendly Volvo dealer.   At the dealer it will set you back $1,295 and Polestar says the chipping should take about ten minutes.  You get a lot of bang for the buck.

If you get your Polestar upgrade when you take delivery of your new Volvo, it can be residualized in a lease or financed with the vehicle.  Volvo’s warranty and maintenance plans remain in place.  It’s pretty seamless.


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Volvo C30 Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Compact Cars

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The sporty C30 3-door hatchback is the top rated Premium Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research.  As the class winner, its owners indicate there is little they would change about their new car with a few notable exceptions.  About 35% want better interior storage and easier ingress/egress.  About 25% of C30 owners want more infotainment technology, more cargo room and better visibility.  C30 owners most like the car’s seat comfort, ride, and power.  The C30 outscores second place Audi A3 by a wide margin.  


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Volvo S60 Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award for Aspirational Luxury Cars

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The all new S60 is the top rated Aspirational Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research.  As the class winner, its owners indicate there is little they would change about their new car with a few notable exceptions.  As with many of today’s Volvos, the car is a little tight inside.  About 35% of the S60 owners want more interior roominess and about 27% want more cargo room.  About 15% say they would give up technology for easier to use controls.  They most like S60’s ride, seat comfort and handling.  The S60 wins its class by a substantial margin over the second place Audi A4. 


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Volvo XC70 Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award for Luxury Crossover SUVs

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The Volvo XC70 is the top ranked Luxury XSUV in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research.  As the class winner, its owners identify few things they would want changed, but there are a few exceptions.  The XC70 has a fast, laid-back windshield that makes it look good, but hard to get into and out of.  Over 25% of XC70 owners want it to be easier to get into and out of.  About 20% want more infotainment technology and more roominess.  About 15% of XC70 owners would give up power and acceleration for better fuel economy.  XC70 owners are less likely to want to change its exterior size or have larger wheels or firmer seats.  Volvo swept the Luxury XSUV class with the Volvo XC60 positioned in 2nd place in the IVA rankings for the class.


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Volvo XC90 in England

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Once in a while, there is an opportunity to drive the same vehicle in England as in the USA. I recently had the opportunity to drive a Volvo XC90 Sport with V8 in England. My daily driver happens to be a Volvo XC90 Volvo Ocean Race V8. So with the exception of some cosmetic tweaks and right hand drive, the English example was about as close to my Volvo in the USA as it could be. While you couldn’t lose the brilliant red XC90 in the parking lot, its “colour” did not seem to garner much respect from other cars on the road. But driving the XC90 for ten days in England certainly does bring home the differences in the driving environment.
Volvo XC90 VOR VehicleVoice.jpg

Right Size in USA – Titanic in Britain
In the USA, the Volvo XC90 is surely a Luxury Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle, but in Britain it is a Chelsea tractor open to sneers and ridicule by the hoi polloi. In some places, there are restrictions on driving vehicles like this in the city center. In the USA, the XC90 is the right size. In Britain, it is huge having to hug the shoulder of the road to let a Daewoo Matiz micro mini squeeze by. How many times did I feel like I was going mirror-to-mirror with approaching traffic? Many!
Having a discussion with an elderly gentleman in Henley, he said to count the number of 4x4s driven by women. As in the USA, the proportion of female drivers was as high or higher than males. As in the USA, these vehicles have become the suburban transportation for children. Safe, secure, somewhat ostentatious, thirsty and open to ridicule. But the XC90 is just the right size to swallow a ton of luggage and transport you safely though any type of terrain or weather.
Fill-ups Stop the Heart
One thing I was terrified of was filling the XC90 V8 with petrol. The first fill-up was over $140 – double what it costs in the USA. Luckily I was using regular and not premium. The second fill-up was slightly less. Let’s do the calculations…
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There are 3.8 liters to the gallon so this fill-up was 55.99 litres or 14.7 gallons – it seemed like a lot more. Petrol was 120.9 pence per litre or £1.209 per litre. So, this particular fill-up was £67.70. Now, sometimes I pay that much in dollars, but in pounds it is a dramatically different situation. The dollar is $1.991 to each £1.00 British Pound. So this fill-up was $134.79. Now you understand why Europeans drive dramatically smaller cars than we do.
Pricing in Britain – Twice as Much as in USA!!!!!!!!
Not only do the British pay much more for petrol than Americans do for gasoline (mostly due to taxes), but they pay a whopping premium for the cars they drive. Take the XC90 for example. IIn the USA, the base price of the XC90 is $36,950. In Britain it is £32,845 (I’m not doing a feature by feature comparison – just base to base). So, that is $65,394. The Volvo XC90 Sport is $50,615 in the USA and the top of the line Executive model is £54,550 in Britain – $108,609. I don’t know about you, but thinking of paying more than $100,000 for a Volvo blows my mind. Now, probably I’m over estimating something here – like VAT – is it in or out of the British price? Don’t know. But even taking out a VAT amount, their prices still are a hugely stiff premium over USA prices.
Gillian Strikes Again
Every navigation system voice requires a name. This one is “Gillian”. One of the first things I do in Britain is to set the navigation system to exclude all motorways – limited access highways like interstates. I like to lump along on scenic byways rather than on a high speed highway. Over the years I have been experiencing ever improving direction capability and the Volvo navigation system was no exception. It never put the XC90 on a motorway. It kept the directions on A-Roads and B-Roads for the most part, but occasionally a road without number would pop up. Invariably, this road would be little more than a cowpath. It would have one lane roads through picturesque villages or include a toll-bridge (even though NO TOLL ROADS was programmed into the system). By day seven, I learned to ignore all directions that lacked a number like A36 or B3094. Those were safe and navigable, but without a number, all bets were off. This is a lesson to be heeded even here in the good ol’ USA.


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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards

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Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.


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2009 Volvo XC60: First Official Pictures

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Formal Worldwide Reveal Set for Geneva Auto Show
Volvo is among several luxury makes adding smaller and smaller crossover SUVs over the coming years, as consumers get more concerned about fuel economy and worldwide regulations get tighter. Whether the European CO2-emissions regulations or U.S. CAFÉ standards, the combination of buyer sensitivity and governmental interference means smaller, more efficient, and lighter vehicles are on the horizon.

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The XC60 goes on sale in the States in early 2009, and will be offered with only one powertrain. This single powertrain, a 285HP six-cylinder, should provide a nice combination between get-up-and-go and efficiency. Judging by these photos, I’m looking forward to seeing the XC60 on the road and getting my chance behind the wheel. Smaller and better-looking than the aging XC90, its size is better suited to my own life. U.S. buyers get their first look in March at the New York auto show.
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There are buyers for whom small but Spartan will not be acceptable, and they are being targeted with vehicles like the XC60. Small, nimble, but still practical in both cargo and their cost-per-mile. Volvo looks to sell 50,000 XC60s around the world, with the United States one of the top five markets. These entries are not poised to take the lion’s share of SUV sales, but they will be important for the bottom line, for meeting regulations, and for keeping market share.
Enough talk. More photos, plus Volvo’s official release, below the fold.


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