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Dealers prepared for 'revolvolution'

All Volvo Car UK dealers will be told by the end of the year whether they have a future with the marque.

This will coincide with the programme to move the Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover retail networks closer in metropolitan areas.

Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Ford Premier Automotive Group (PAG) chairman, has indicated he wants dealerships representing the brands to be together on sites where this would be an advantage.

The arrival of the S60 sports saloon, making a UK debut at the Birmingham motor show, is seen as an important step in raising the profile of Volvo.

The company calls it a 'revolvolution'.

Gerry Keaney, VCUK managing director, said: “We are taking a pragmatic approach and will deal with each retail territory on its merits.

“There are advantages in joint distribution but we will not change anything for cosmetic reasons. Where there are good retail operations, we will not change for the sake of change.”

Volvo's 180 UK dealers are on a fixed five-year contract which expires in December 2001. Each is being told privately of the retail plan so that Volvo knows which wants – and is capable – of being part of it.

Pendragon, the UK's biggest motor retail group, will be an integral part of the structure because it has a large number of Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover dealerships.

Mr Keaney, who was in his current role when Ford bought Volvo in January 1999, said its influence had been “extremely motivating”.

Shortly before the show the S60 T5 broke 18 British land speed records as Ford launched a new marketing exercise for Volvo.

Over 24 hours, the S60 averaged 135.1mph in the category for D-sector production cars (2000-3000cc). The previous record of 115.35mph was set in 1983.

The S60 costs from £19,995. Volvo cut its UK prices by an average of 9% on September 1.

Volvo has developed its first car diesel engine and the lightweight, aluminium five-cylinder 2.4-litre unit will be built at its plant at Skovde, Sweden.

The 163bhp engine will be available in the spring for the V70 and S80 with supplies later for the S60. Volvo claims 40mpg economy in the S80.

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