Whatever Happened To Volvo: New York Auto Show Has Answers

Apr 20 2014, 10:52am CDT | by

NEW YORKVolvo Cars of North America is on the rebound, neatly symbolized by the new 2015 Volvo V60 station wagon, on display at the New York International Auto Show.

“We brought back the wagon – but not the old kind of wagon,” said Bodil Eriksson, executive vice president marketing communications and product for Volvo Cars of North America, Rockleigh, N.J.

She said Volvo Cars expects its U.S. sales to improve around 6 percent in 2014. That works out to around 65,000 cars.

Volvo Cars didn’t offer a station wagon in the United States from 2011 through 2013, which is a little like Dunkin Donuts stopped selling donuts.

Granted, the station wagon segment has dwindled in the United States — Subaru is an exception that proves the rule — but the Volvo Car brand is synonymous with safe and sturdy station wagons. Instead, Volvo Cars offered and continues to offer different versions of its XC crossover sport-utilities.

Starting in January, Volvo Cars finally brought back the wagon with the all-new V60. The new generation gets up to 37 miles per gallon on the highway thanks to a new generation of turbocharged, four-cylinder engines.

Styling is sleek and attractive, unlike the Boxy, but good label that a fictional Dudley Moore character memorably hung on Volvo Cars. That was in the 1990 movie “Crazy People.”

It’s understandable to wonder, “Whatever happened to Volvo?” Ford Motor Co. sold Sweden’s Volvo Cars to China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. in August 2010. Ford publicly indulged in a lot of back and forth whether to keep Volvo Cars or sell it.

Volvo Cars has hung in there in the interim — unlike Sweden’s other car brand, Saab Cars, which ended up in bankruptcy. Americans tend to equate Saab and Volvo because they’re both Swedish, but Volvo Cars is a much bigger concern than Saab Cars. Even in Sweden, buying a Saab was considered the quirky, anti-Establishment choice.

However, Volvo Cars admits its U.S. sales badly need to improve in the next couple of years. U.S. sales for Volvo Cars were down 10 percent in 2013 to around 60,000.

“That’s not enough,” said Alain Visser, senior vice president marketing, sales and customer service for Volvo Cars in Sweden. “We have been very committed to about 100,000 in the U.S. market,” he said.

Public days for the New York International Auto Show are April 18 to April 27, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 11th Ave. between 34th and 40th Streets, in Manhattan.


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