By on July 5, 2018

Having already launched the Care by Volvo subscription program, the Swedish-Chinese automotive brand wants to continue cramming feathers into its cap. It’s now launching a new mobility brand that sounds very similar to car-sharing services offered by numerous automakers and rental firms.

There could be an issue with the naming strategy, however. Volvo wants to call the company M, which is a letter of the alphabet that’s of particular interest for BMW. In case you’ve been in a coma for the last forty years, the German automaker has used the letter M (for Motorsport) to denote its performance division and affixes it to everything in its lineup with sporting pretensions. While it probably can’t claim ownership of all things relating to the mark, it’s definitely not going to be thrilled to see Volvo using it.

Of course, Volvo isn’t planning on using the symbol to identify high-performance models. That’s what Polestar is for, despite also being a separate brand. Instead, M will serve as the group’s global mobility operations, seeking to provide dependable, on-demand access to cars and services through a proprietary app.

It’s something a lot of other automakers and rental firms have already done. ZipCar, which is owned by Avis, has allowed customers to arrange short-term rentals since 2001. While largely impractical in rural areas, it’s been an ideal solution for some urbanites who don’t need daily access to an automobile but may find themselves occasionally wanting one. It’s also a relatively cheap way to gain access to a multitude of vehicle types.

Since then, ZipCar and similar rental-based car sharing services have exploded — forcing automakers to take notice. General Motors now runs its own rental firm, called Maven, while Daimler has Car2Go and BMW has DriveNow. Volvo seems intent on entering the fray as industry leaders continue expanding the auto business in every direction conceivable. Apparently, just being a automotive manufacturer is no longer enough.

“Volvo Cars is becoming more than just a car company. We recognize that urban consumers are rethinking traditional car ownership. M is part of our answer. We are evolving to become a direct-to-consumer services provider under our new mission ‘Freedom to Move’,” Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Sunfleet, the leading car sharing company in Sweden, originally existed as a collaboration between Volvo and Hertz in the late 1990s. The automaker said it and its 50,000 subscribers will be fully integrated into M in 2019. From there, it looks like Volvo hopes to take the M brand in a global direction.

The automaker also mentioned the service would do more than simply reserve a vehicle. Volvo said the app uses exclusive learning technology that asks users about their specific needs, instead of merely showing them where they can pick up a car. However, it’s unclear what services it will offer to set itself apart. Maybe these Volvos can be pre-ordered with snacks and an umbrella, while taking into account your favorite chip flavor and color of parasol.

For now, Stockholm will continue serving as M’s base of development. Volvo says a broader beta test will take place this autumn and lead to further announcements.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

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18 Comments on “Volvo Launches ‘M’ Mobility Brand, BMW Likely to Become Perturbed...”

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “The app uses exclusive learning technology that asks users about their specific needs.” And the information will be promptly sold to anyone interested and willing to pay for it. No thanks.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yes, I’m sure BMW is drafting the international equivalent of a cease and desist letter as we speak. I remember hearing—and don’t quote me on this—that in the 90s, Mercedes-Benz got into some trouble with BMW over the use of the letter M, which is why the SUV that was technically the M-Class (now the GLE-Class) was always badged “ML ###”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Volvo should have called it “Mo”.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Volvo apparently missing the fact that “M” is already taken as an automotive trademark really symbolizes the idiocy behind this and all the other “mobility” silliness being cooked up these days quite nicely.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    First that idiotic “Polestar” name, conductive to strip joint jokes, and now stealing “M” from BMW. Someone’s absent at the wheel at Volvo.

  • avatar

    The BMW faithful squirm when people refer to the Tesla Model 3 as the “M3”.

    I guess the BMW kids better get used to namespace collisions.

    Because, seriously, trademarking a letter of the alphabet is rediculous.

    As for who gets to own the contraction “M3”, I suggest it bet settled on the drag strip.

  • avatar

    Do we really need another one of these services? Is it now considered a rite of passage for every luxury automaker?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I attended a seminar on this subject put on by Automotive News at NADA. We are in the beginning stages of this model, not the later. The hardest part, near as I can tell, is the insurance and the app. The app is largely solved and their are some platforms now available for purchase and large dealer groups are gearing up their own services.

      My speculation is you will see these services in every metro area running ads for $999 a month or whatever with the OAC at the end (on approved credit), kind of like the cell phone companies now. The highline services are fairly expensive, close to $2k per month.

      In a decade or so, this will be how a percentage of the populace leases at least one of their cars IMHO.

  • avatar

    Volvo doesn’t seem to have a clue when it comes to copyrighting letters/names.

    When they were launching their small sedan/wagon S40/V40 it was to be called S4/F4.

    Audi mentioned that they already had an S4, so they stuck a zero at the end. All good until Ferrari mentioned that they couldn’t name a wagon after their F40 supercar, so it became a V.

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with the letter “V”?

  • avatar

    I was going to say these are about as diametrically opposed uses of the letter M in the automotive realm as I could think of, but with the way BMW has diluted the M brand I’m not so sure. I’m sure that when their autonomous system is ready it will be available in even the most hardcore 6 GT (650e GT sDrive50i ///M-Sport iPerformance)

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