Coup KOs C30 coupe

Only safety is sacro­sanct in re-eval­u­a­tion of Volvo, writes Paul Gover in Paris

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

EV­ERY­THING short of safety is on the line at Volvo as the Swedish brand plans for its new fu­ture un­der Chi­nese own­er­ship.

Ev­ery­thing Volvo does — from the fu­ture of the C30 coupe to the value of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign — is go­ing through a mas­sive re-eva­lu­tion.

It is now con­trolled by Geely, which bought the com­pany from Ford, and that raises the po­ten­tial for a new brand di­rec­tion and a new phi­los­o­phy to drive ev­ery de­ci­sion taken at its head­quar­ters in Gothen­burg.

‘‘I don’t want to be a fol­lower,’’ says Ste­fan Ja­coby, the new pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Volvo Cars.

‘‘Our strat­egy will be to find our unique in­ter­pre­ta­tion and our unique spec­i­fi­ca­tion of what we think should be in a pre­mium car. We tried too much to copy what our com­peti­tors are do­ing. This is not the right way for Volvo.

‘‘Our strat­egy will not be the same as one of our key com­peti­tors, and maybe we have done this too much in the past. It’s not like we want to be an Alfa Romeo or BMW brand — that makes no sense.’’

Ja­coby was re­cruited from Volk­swa­gen Group and knows what peo­ple ex­pect from Volvo.

‘‘Safety is ob­vi­ously our pri­or­ity and we will con­tinue to de­velop and en­gi­neer safety fea­tures that save lives,‘‘ he says.

‘‘What we are do­ing now is that we are putting the puz­zle pieces to­gether. We re-eval­u­ate all the ex­ist­ing plans, strate­gies, brand­ing and so on. We are, of course, de­vel­op­ing a new strat­egy for Volvo for the fu­ture.

‘‘I think it will be more real. It will be much more fo­cused on brand­ing, on the val­ues that Volvo, as a Scan­di­na­vian prod­uct, has to of­fer.

‘‘We will sharpen our prod­ucts. We will give them a more dis­tin­guished Scan­di­na­vian de­sign. I think we will give our cars a much big­ger stake on ap­peal and emo­tions.’’

He says noth­ing is pro­tected be­yond safety and hints sev­eral mod­els, in­clud­ing the C30, are un­der threat be­cause Volvo needs to con­cen­trate on four key prod­ucts.

‘‘It’s def­i­nitely XC60 and XC90. Also the S and V60 lines. And the big ones as well, S80 and V70. Within the model range we have to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce our com­plex­ity.

‘‘We have also to ask our­selves if it makes sense to stay in the seg­ments we are in to­day. We are too com­plex right now.

‘‘I have ini­ti­ated to re-de­fine and re­fine the brand which is Volvo. We need to do this on a global scale. It will take sev­eral months.’’

The com­ing changes at Volvo are un­likely to have much short-term im­pact in Aus­tralia. Even so, Ja­coby is promis­ing the right cars for the mar­ket.

‘‘Aus­tralia is a very in­ter­est­ing mar­ket with a grow­ing de­mand for Euro­pean prod­ucts. It is an im­por­tant part next to the ma­jor mar­kets,’’ Ja­coby says.

‘‘Mar­kets like Aus­tralia . . . do of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for us. For me, ev­ery cus­tomer of Volvo has the same pri­or­ity.’’

Un­der threat: the Volvo C30 is among mod­els with un­cer­tain fu­tures.

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