Volvo's CEO Rattles Dealer Network With Statements on Direct Sales

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

volvo s ceo rattles dealer network with statements on direct sales

Volvo CEO Jim Rowan wants to sell cars directly to consumers, but his statements and moves in other countries have the automaker’s American dealer network up in arms. Speaking on an earnings call, he expressed frustration with Volvo’s distance from its buyers and said the company plans to learn as much as possible from the new sales model in the U.K. before rolling it out to other countries.

Rowan said, “it seems strange for me coming from the consumer electronics and technology industry that you can sell a product which is $40, $50, $60,000 of value to a customer that you never speak to pre-sales and you never speak to post-sales.” Rowan, CEO of Dyson before reaching Volvo, believes that as vehicles become more connected, the automaker must be part of the conversation with buyers.

Unsurprisingly, dealers aren’t happy with this news. Volvo Retail Advisory Board chair Ernie Norcross said Rowan’s mentality sets the automaker on a head-on collision course with its dealer network. “We do not feel respected or valued as partners with his comments,” Norcross told Automotive News

Though Rowan and many buyers want a direct sales model, U.S. law and automaker-dealer agreements may make it largely impossible. Rowan said it’s not important how consumers buy Volvos, whether at home on a computer or on a dealer’s lot, but he wants the automaker to be involved at every touchpoint along the way. However, he did emphasize the customer buying from Volvo instead of a dealer, even if they’re picking up from the physical location. 

[Image: Volvo]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Mike Mike on Feb 15, 2023

    At one time I had 5 New model Volvos in my garage and driveway. I was a true advocate for the company. Then you sold out to the Chinese. Prices sky rocketed but value for money did not. I will NEVER buy another Volvo. And trust me when I say, I am the consumer you should be selling too

  • Pixie Dust Pixie Dust on Feb 15, 2023

    I have owned three Volvos and planned to always buy Volvos. No more, I cannot afford nor do I want to pay over $50000 for a car. I would have bought the cross country V60 but not at an inflated price. I will miss Volvo but I'll adjust. BTW, I would NEVER do a subscription to a car, that's a ridiculous idea.

  • ScarecrowRepair How much is the $ub$cription for those facing seats? How much extra to have both face backwards, or to have a button to switch the facing-in seats to face outwards when the kids' arguments get too distracting? Is there an option to be sideways facing each other?
  • Deanst We seemed to have passed peak Hyundai/Kia design appeal. There is nothing clever or appealing to the exterior - the eye is drawn to awkward and inconsistent treatments. The interior - which I’m sure has decent materials - seems to be something that might excite Lee Iacocca’s grandson. In the meantime, I question the sanity of anyone buying a $20,000 H/K vehicle with a 2 litre engine.
  • Ajla The problem with "gushing" Genesis reviews is that they seem to take place in a world where the only cars are Genesis and the 1999 Kia Sephia. Is this better than an S-Class, 7-series, LS500, A8, Lucid Air, or Panamera Executive? Or is everyone the prettiest girl in town?
  • Lou_BC Don't miss AM or FM radio at all. I don't miss satellite radio either. Spotify or downloaded content on my cell is all I need.
  • Lou_BC I see plenty of these around. Most small delivery companies in my town are using tiny cars like the Kia Soul with a rear seat delete and a flat pan installed.