Reinventing a Staid Volvo

Regional Business Manager of Volvo Cars Asia Pacific (VCAP) Ai Phing Teh who was recently in the country for an annual business review announced that Volvo is no longer seen as a boring brand.


 Relying on an improving the brand image among consumers, and buoyed by the growing premium car market and an economy that is picking up, Viking Cars Inc. (VCI)/Volvo Philippines has announced plans to open a new dealership office in Alabang.


 There will also be mall tours to allow more people to see Volvo cars up close.


 A Volvo may have a strong reputation for safety as well as a long and respected tradition in innovation, particularly with regards to safety in consumer cars, but it lacked the quick sales appeal that its competitors in the same automotive premium pricing segment had.


 However, Volvo’s landscape is slowly changing, and seemingly for the better: its cars without doubt are being noticed by more people.


 


SUV and safety appeal


Admittedly, the local premium automobile market’s appetite continues to be voracious about SUVs. When the XC series was introduced in the country, heads turned. The XC60 compact crossover SUV, initially manufactured by Volvo Cars at its factory in Ghent, Belgium, was Volvo’s best-selling car in 2009.


This model has a sporty appeal that is strongly reinforced by a fuel efficiency feature boasting of 1,186 kilometers of driving on a full tank of gasoline. And of course, the industry was abuzz with regards the latest Volvo safety technology called City Safety that automatically applies the brakes when the car’s built-in infrared laser sensors detect possible low-speed collision.


Teh believes that with Volvo’s safety innovations like the seat belt and ABS, City Safety will become a standard feature in future cars.


 “We will be introducing more safety features in the future. Safety is owned by Volvo and we don’t want to lose this,” she said.


 


R&D


New daring designs, at least by Volvo standards, may have persuaded new customers to purchase the brand, but it was the long-standing reputation of Volvo’s diesel engines that could be considered as a core pillar of its strength as a vehicle.


Philippine diesel specifications may not be comparable to European standards, but Volvo’s imported diesel models have passed through homologation standards so that emission standards are kept to the lowest possible levels without sacrificing on performance levels.


The said that the one thing that the world may look forward to with the acquisition by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, China’s largest private-run car maker, of Volvo Cars last year, is the increased capability of Volvo to develop better cars for the future.


“There will be more money for research and development,” she says, even as Geely has vowed to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the Swedish-based management.


A new manufacturing plant is expected to rise soon in China, although this will only supplement the production of an existing production facility in the country.


“The demand for Volvos in China remains strong,” says Teh.


The Philippine operations may pale in comparison with China’s, but to all the Volvo staff in the country, including those in the Cebu showroom, the dynamic increase of sales in recent months is reason enough to feel giddy.


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