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Volvo UK rises to challenge of C30

The third quarter of 2007 will see UK Volvo dealers selling the new V70 large estate and XC70 crossover estate models, which make up around a quarter of Volvo’s annual UK sales.

Dean Shaw, Volvo UK product manager said loyalty to these models is very high among existing customers, who are expected to account for around 75% of orders.

“We have customers who have kept their Volvo estate for 10 or 12 years since new, then once their kids have grown up they decide they want a new one,” said Shaw.

About 65,000 customers on Volvo UK’s database are being contacted about the new models. Pre-launch marketing begins next month with a “Freedom Test Drive” roadshow – a location-based programme for valued existing customers to take unaccompanied test-drives, including some off-road routes for XC70. The cars’ joint launch in September will coincide with a brand-focused global TV campaign.

Volvo UK has been hunting for new customers in the smaller car sector following the launch of its C30 Sportscoupe six months ago. With competition fierce in this segment of the market, there has been a steep learning curve for the company and its dealers, said managing director Stuart Kerr.

Kerr added: “The C30 is beginning to work for us. We are just a very small player in this segment of the market but what we can bring to it all the Volvo core values.

“We will just have to learn how to play in the segment and that goes for the dealers as well. If we can get up to 5,000 sales a year then we will be happy.”

Kerr said the UK has had a fairly late start with the C30 in terms of sales but he wanted a stable supply of vehicles before the main push starts.

“Historically our customers are not C30 buyers but if you look at the way the market is going with people downsizing we do have a very broad, over-50s customer base with a lot of disposable income.

“Yes, we do want to attract younger customers into the car, but we don’t want to lose our existing ones.”

Is a downsizing market a possible problem for Volvo, traditionally a maker of large cars? Kerr said: “Rich people will always buy very expensive cars while most people buy a runaround. We are closer to the expensive end and as people become more socially aware, they may start trading down from the expensive models into ours.”

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