Volvo Ending Sedan/Wagon Sales in UK, Could North America Be Next?
Volvo Cars is suspending sedan sales in the United Kingdom and it looks like North America could be next if we consider the brand’s rationale. The company has said its sales volume has skewed so heavily toward SUVs and crossovers that it doesn’t make good sense to offer anything else.
The Swedish-Chinese brand had already pulled the S90 from the market earlier this summer. But Volvo expressed its intention to further consolidate its lineup as a way to boost profitability and appears to be taking steps toward that goal. On Tuesday, Autocar noticed that the brand’s online configurator for the U.K. is now absent the S60, V60, and V90.
While the Cross Country variants of the wagons had already been scrubbed, standard variants seem to be following them into the abyss — following the current industry trend of chasing margins, rather than offering a diverse array of automobiles catering to a broader clientele.
However, Volvo is also in the midst of a transition. Like many brands, it has promised to prioritize all-electric vehicles under the assumption that they’ll make more money and be subject to less scrutiny from overzealous government regulators. Even Volvo's marketing for its traditional sedans, wagons, and crossovers tends to focus heavily on hybrid trims. The company’s plant in South Carolina (which builds the S60) is also presently being converted to focus on battery-powered SUVs intended for Volvo and Polestar. The first models are due to arrive next year.
“We continue to rapidly transform our product offer, which means not only moving towards full electrification, but also shifting to new platforms and technologies across all our cars. We will naturally need to evolve and consolidate our line-up as we prioritise [sic] fully electric cars and make this technological transition,” Volvo told Autocar in a statement.
"As a result, we have removed further models from the UK line-up. These include the S60, V60 and V90. Demand for our existing SUV line-up continues to grow, while interest in our forthcoming fully electric EX30 and EX90 models is strong. Meanwhile, appetite for our saloon and estate models has fallen to very low levels in the UK, which has led to our decision to remove these models from sale in the UK.”
It’s a similar story for our market. Regardless of which model you happen to be looking at, volumes of Volvo’s sedans and wagons are roughly half of what they were 10 years ago. Meanwhile, its SUV and crossover volumes have effectively doubled within the same period. With the exception of 2022, this resulted in an overall increase in annual sales every year since 2014.
Volvo sold 64,921 vehicles in the United States in 2015 and managed to move 123,424 units by the end of 2021. The brand has SUVs to thank for its increased volume and market share.
Autocar attempted to drive this point home from a global perspective:
Volvo recently published its global sales figures for the first half of 2023, revealing that its most popular car – an SUV – outsold its entire saloon and estate range by a margin of nearly 70 [percent].
The S90 was the most popular of the now-discontinued cars, with 23,000 sales over the six-month period. The S60 accounted for 18,000 and the V60 just over 16,000. The V90, however, notched up just 7,100.
The best-selling Volvo XC60, meanwhile, sold 106,000, remaining hugely popular even in its sixth year on sale.
While Volvo Cars is still selling actual cars on our market, it seems unlikely that it’s going to continue doing so. The above makes it easy to rationalize dumping everything that’s not an SUV and we’ve already seen American brands doing the same in a bid to chase down margins.
Traditional sedans and wagons now appear to be limited to European luxury brands and mainstream Asian nameplates. Though even Japanese and Korean automakers have been placing a greater emphasis on crossover vehicles, SUVs, and pickup trucks.
Volvo might lose a few would-be wagon or sedan fans to an Audi or BMW. But the crossover lineup has enough overlap to keep some buyers on the lot. Someone who wasn’t totally committed to buying an S90 or S60 could be satisfied with an XC-badged equivalent.
But the company has not committed itself to anything in our market, even if the plan seems obvious. Volvo is betting big on customers buying its all-electric products and plans to offer a totally electrified lineup by 2030. This is backed by mounting regulatory pressures. Though the market will still have its say. Those EX-badged electric crossovers may turn out to be unpopular or end up being further delayed due to software issues. Sedans and wagons could likewise become trendy again, swaying what the brand decides to do.
Volvo has said it wants to “play across all the spectrums and range” with a consumer base that’s interested in different vehicles. That seems as though it would leave room for sedans and station wagons. But its current sales figures don’t fully support this. The Volvo shoppers of today seem overwhelmingly interested in crossover vehicles and SUVs.
[Image: Volvo Cars]
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