By on December 16, 2014


Volvo may not be ready to directly sell its models to the public in the same way Tesla does, but the automaker is ready for online orders.

Reuters reports Volvo will gently wade into Internet sales around the globe, and increase spending on digital advertising, though consumers will still need to visit their nearest dealer to complete the transaction for now, per sales boss Alain Visser. He adds that around 80 percent of the automaker’s base are already well-versed in online shopping, and believes the habit will transfer into cars soon enough.

Just as Volvo adjusts its backwards cap and velcro sneakers before rolling out onto the information superhighway upon its magic keyboard, however, the automaker will not be attending as many auto shows as it once did. Instead, it will hit a single show per year in Asia, Europe and North America — specifically, Shanghai/Beijing, Geneva and Detroit — preferring to produce its own annual global event for the latest and greatest.

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29 Comments on “Volvo Entering Digital Sales, Limiting Show Appearances...”

  • avatar

    It seems a little odd to be doing both at the same time. At first glance i would assume auto shows are exactly where you would show this to the buying public. It’s probably a money thing, but it seems like a missed opportunity to make this work.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe their viewpoint is there is no need to be at a car show to get press coverage to put their message out there. I tend to agree.

    • 0 avatar

      People that actually buy cars don’t go to auto shows. They are for the press.

      Kudos to Volvo for adapting to the people of the 21st century.

      • 0 avatar

        Very untrue.

        The local Tampa Bay Intl Auto Show is hosted by local dealers and always has a good, steady turnout of ‘intenders’ who always take advantage of the test-drive events that take place concurrent with the show.

        Volvo would be foolhardy to ignore this group.

      • 0 avatar

        redav & HerrKaLeun

        I disagree. Sure my local NY show is a press extravaganza (along with the other big ones), but at smaller shows it seems like nearly everyone is in the market for a car. I was at the CT show a few weeks ago and I was seeing people with checklists and questions. Guys like me/us were around, but definitely a minority, and besides, being perpetually in the market is basically built into suburban family life in the US. As to the staff there, they were a mix of dealer and manufacturer reps, although it seemed like the luxury brands really swung more towards the dealer side of things.

        I was also thinking that Volvo won’t ever have people explaining and pushing this concept face to face outside of the auto show context because it’s really the only time a live customer is going to interact with someone from the brand as opposed to a dealership. The way I see it, a salesman will always just hand over a card and try to keep the sale for themselves, because there’s no way in hell one of them is going to risk the automated program sending the buyer to another person or location. Perhaps Volvo could simultaneously/somehow convince all their dealers to abandon the commission model as a fix to this, but I doubt that is within their control.

        I think Volvo would be better served by turning their auto show presence into their equivalent of a Tesla showroom experience. Shoppers will have seen their ads by then hopefully, and the next contact with the message would be someone from Volvo showing them, in person, how it works. I doubt many people would be willing to buy on the spot like that, but it would send attendees home with something to talk about within their circle. It would also put the new purchase portal in front of local media everywhere there is a show.

        It makes too much sense to be anything but a money compromise, and I bet any major player would do it the way I outlined above. I think that Volvo, unsurprisingly, just doesn’t have that big a marketing budget.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        No so, HerrKaLeun.

        I go to the auto show so I can try out lots of cars in one shot. The best part is no sales pressure.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m of two minds on this. At first glance it seems to make sense; as pointed out above, how many buyers actually go to car shows? The big ones, anyway?

      Auto shows are for the press, yes. But if you’re basically going all-in online, you need to stuff as many communications channels as you can to get that traffic back to your site. And auto shows create a heck of a lot of clicks.

      What will probably happen is a bit of both approaches. Volvo will only do a couple of the major shows (Detroit, LA) and skip all the smaller general-audience ones, like ours in Houston. Then they will steal a page from Mazda and either pick or create their own small, targeted event to build buzz, like Mazda just did with the MX-5 rollout at Laguna Seca.

      Because like it or not, being at the shows and having a couple dozen websites (of varying quality) run pictures of your new stuff will be critical to driving that online traffic to whatever sort of presence they come up with.

  • avatar

    Out of sight out of mind. You still need to go to the store to try for size… The net is for specs & number crunching.

  • avatar

    Operators are standing by…

  • avatar

    Funny, I initially read ‘digital sales’ as being able to count them on your fingers.

  • avatar

    Bose sells their speakers in kiosks where you can’t compare with other brands. That’s what I like about car shows, you can do some comparisons.

  • avatar

    Yeah cause anytime I buy a vehicle, I do the whole transaction virtually.

    All seriousness, most I do is check dealer inventories online. That’s the extent of my computer usage when purchasing a vehicle.

    I don’t blame them. Geely Volvo ought to be doing everything it can to gain market share.

  • avatar

    It’s never going to be a good idea for a consumer to purchase a brand new, ordered car that they have not seen, touched, or driven. Most people are too scared to purchased used on Ebay – I don’t see them flocking to [the very unpopular] Volvo to buy something new.

    I’m a younger Internet-savvy person who’s bought two cars on Ebay sight unseen, and I still wouldn’t buy a Volvo this way.

  • avatar

    Wow, such negativity here. I don’t see why the car shows are needed, people can still go see the cars at an actual dealership and unlike big auto shows you can actually take a test drive at the dealership. You can’t fully buy it online anyway so I don’t see what the problem is with this-being able to get a set price online and confirm the configuration without some BS negotiation is a huge positive in my opinion. They could even give you a card with a url on it so you can finish your purchase online after test driving at the dealer and have the URL be a salespersons linked URL.

    I would actually greatly prefer this to the BS involved in buying a car currently. I’ve done the haggling and dealt with my fair share of wannabe mobsters (who often have real mob ties on the east coast because of the history of a lot of import dealers) and I think most people are all for a better method.

    Seriously though, why do most of these comments sound like they’re written by 65 year olds here?! Maybe it’s because I still try to keep up with the tech/Silicon Valley world with one of my businesses but the tech phobia here is insane. I’ve been to auto shows and frankly sitting in a car for two minutes isn’t exacting something I’d buy a car based off of. If I’m interested I’ll be doing an in depth look at the dealer anyways. Car shows really are starting to feel very antiquated these days.

    And if you aren’t a heavy hitter like Toyota or Mercedes then launching your new car at an auto show is a dumb as hell idea. Your launch gets buried under news of 50 other launches and while the Camry might get real coverage somewhere your car ends up in a blurb on some list of cars from the show. Frankly it’s a waste of effort. Launch it when other cars aren’t launching and you might actually get better press coverage. Hollywood studios know better than to launch a movie alongside big budget blockbusters but apparently car companies still don’t get it. Glad to see Volvo and Geely actually thinking smartly here with a limited budget. They need to put that money into R&D and platforms and manufacturing.

    Honestly if the V60 had less dead feeling steering and a slightly richer interior it’d probably sell like hotcakes. It’s a good car but not standout and the price is just a smidge too high. Utilize Geely’s supply chain and manufacring to chop $3000 off the price, add a little bit of wood and fake leather here and there, re-engineer the steering setup to provide actual real road feel and much less artificial heaviness and Volvo could easily sell double or triple what they’re doing now.

  • avatar

    Built to order v60 r design 6mt platinum package that I can order online, delivered in 3 months for 10 percent off msrp? Wait. How is this any different than Swedish delivery that they already have?

    • 0 avatar

      First, it doesn’t involve travel to Europe.

      Second, 10%? Where did you get that?

      Third, you get overseas delivery by buying it at your local dealer.

      I actually have a great local dealer who sells Volvo and Merc. If he sold Audi or BMW I would likely be driving one of those.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Volvo is dying, folks. They’re just trying to save some money.

    • 0 avatar

      If anything is dying it is the car show.

      As a middle-aged professional who just bought my first Volvo (a nearly-new CPO S80), I have no interest in fighting crowds of jobless twentysomethings in some exhibition hall that smells like hot dogs. I spent 95% of my recent buying experience online, 5% test driving, and 0% car show.

      Granted, I didn’t buy new which is what Volvo needs. But it was a conquest sale nonetheless, and it happened largely on the internet. The company’s effective online marketing, plus its deep-pocketed new owner, suggest to me that it is far from death.

      The Deathwatch Cult can have its fun for all I care. Without them my sumptuous S80 wouldn’t have been half-price, and I’d probably be driving some Camccord with mouse-fur seats and 8-year financing.

      • 0 avatar

        Not sure local car shows are dying, though it’s not a shopping experience for me if I go. It was when I was younger. The thing about today’s twenty something’s is telling the jobless from wealthy anymore. Though I will admit a lot of them really don’t seem as car focused as my friends were.

        I like my Volvo too, but missed a nice used one by days at the dealership.

        My new advice from Volvo is to get rid of some of their dealers. Perhaps with fewer dealerships, the remaining ones will hold more inventory.

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