VOLVO will have a new addition to is family later this year with the introduction of Polestar, a fully electric brand which will be sold direct to customers online or through a very small number of boutique-stye ‘spaces’, initially in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Polestar 1 is very much a teaser model, with a very small production run of a few hundred and in left hand drive only. Polestar 2 will be aimed at larger numbers and is due in 2020.
The Volvo network will operate the ‘spaces’ and will provide back up in terms of PDI, delivery and service.
Volvo Car UK Managing Director Jon Wakefield has been in place since 2016 having joined the company four years earlier as Sales Director. During that time he has overseen the most successful sales results for a quarter of a century, rising from 30,000 vehicles a year in 2013 to more than 50,000 last year.
This gives the brand more than 2% market share, its best performance since the early 1990s. The plan now is to head north of 600,000 with a new XC40 B-segment SUV on its way which Wakefield believes can easily add 10,000 sales.
He added: “We cover 58% of the market with our current portfolio with V40 accounting for 26% of sales although numbers are in decline as the model runs out.”
Volvo UK is refocusing its efforts on business sales as the lines become increasingly blurred between retail and fleet.
Currently the brand’s mix is split 50-50 between fleet and retail. Managing Director Jon Wakefield said: “There is a broad definition of fleet, a company car is increasingly a personal choice so we will refocus on how we do things in that area.
“We had a large database of corporate customers who we weren’t doing very much with. We have now put that database to use and we have introduced 600 new corporate customers. Also the new XC40, which has largely been retail, we expect to appeal more towards fleet.”
In April, Volvo will launch a full online purchasing platform which will include configuration, stock, part-exchange and finance whether it be cash, finance, PCH or PCP.
Wakefield said: “The general consumer is increasingly happy to buy online and the UK is the most prolific online market in Western Europe.
“However, the dealer will still play to final role in terms of PDI and delivery as well as ongoing service and customer retention.”
The brand is also well prepared for a downturn in diesel. Wakefield said: “In 2013 almost 98% of our sales were diesel and that mix has now dropped to 57% with the rest petrol and hybrid – we have very credible petrol and hybrid options for our large SUVs.”
Finally, on Brexit, Wakefield said: “People are being very cautious in their purchasing decisions ahead of March. Prices might go up, but we are still planning for a successful year.
“We already have plans in place to deal with changing customs regimes at our points of entry into the UK and we are ready with all the necessary paperwork.”