Volvo Proudly Bringing No Cars to AutoMobility LA

volvo proudly bringing no cars to automobility la

Volvo has decided not to bring any vehicles to AutoMobility LA, the tech-focused preamble to the Los Angeles Auto Show. The reason? The brand says it’s not an auto show, despite the word auto being in the title. Volvo claims the industry is changing and so are the expectations of the people who use them. While this may be true to some extent, many people still expect carmakers to promote their cars and aren’t likely to swayed by mobility jargon or a rotating centerpiece that solidifies Volvo’s narrative.

Earlier this week, we mentioned Volvo’s launch of a social media campaign that includes a photograph of a phone displaying text reading “ this is not a phone.” The gambit effectively built intrigue for the show, but the campaign will continue in LA — resulting in a display featuring “a number of interactive demonstrations of connectivity services, such as in-car delivery, car sharing, [and Volvo’s] vision for autonomous driving.” But no cars.

The automaker certainly seems pleased with its decision. But we can’t help noticing that the whole affair feels a little like a child who forgot to do a book report and decided to try and ad lib something flashy in front of the class.

“By calling the trade show Automobility LA, the organizers have recognized the disruption affecting our industry,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president responsible for product strategy at Volvo Cars. “We want to demonstrate that we got the memo and start a conversation about the future of automobility. So instead of bringing a concept car, we talk about the concept of a car. We will not win the ‘car of the show’ award this year, but we are comfortable with that. Because this is not a car show.”

Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo, had more buzz terms on offer, but also something substantive. “Our industry is changing. Rather than just building and selling cars, we will really provide our customers with the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable and safe way,” he said. “We offer our customers access to a car, including new attractive services whenever and wherever they want it.”

Did you catch it? Ignore all the stuff about sustainability and movement and read it again. Volvo is talking about offering access and services. That’s what’s changing within the industry. It won’t be self-driving cars or even electrification; the next big thing will be in-car services from vehicles that are perpetually connected to the internet.

Still, it’s not evident what new services Volvo plans to promote in Los Angeles. Photos of its event space show a setup for Amazon Key and the Care by Volvo subscription plan, neither of which are new programs.

[Images: Volvo Cars]

Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • Frantz Frantz on Nov 23, 2018

    I'm amused by the trash talking on Volvo yet the lack of stories about the show's attendees that did bring cars. If the book report is about getting your message out, I'd say they did it better than by doing what you expected.

  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Nov 23, 2018

    “Any press is good press”...

  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.
  • Mongo312 Had an 89SE, 92SE and an 03SE all with stick. The 03 took almost 3 months to find because there were so few produced with a manual transmission and dealers didn't want to give them up. Ended up buying one from a dealership in San Antonio and having it shipped here to St Louis.