Volvo is going all in on electric cars, promising to be 50 percent electrified by 2025 and 100 percent electric in 2030. On the way there, Volvo is also going online-only for its electric car sales. That will be the only way to get the new battery-electric C40 Recharge, a sloping-roof version of the XC40 crossover.
I can’t help but think of Tesla when I think about Volvo’s shift here. Even if I know this isn’t a shot across the bow, it’s notable that one of the auto giants is finally admitting that car companies will become tech companies as the EV transition ramps up, for better or for worse.
For the better, one hopes. There are so many dealership horror stories, and many enthusiasts aren’t keen on the old retail sales model to begin with. So the announcement from Volvo is not unexpected, but it’s still surprising given how bitter the fight will be to keep dealerships alive. Volvo dealerships will stick around, but it seems they will play a supporting role for the carmaker, rather than serve as the point of origin for Volvo ownership.
Volvo’s head of global commercial operations, Lex Kerssemakers said the following about the transition:
The future of Volvo Cars is defined by three pillars: electric, online and growth. We want to offer our customers peace of mind and a care-free way of having a Volvo, by taking away complexity while getting and driving the car. Simplification and convenience are key to everything we do.
I’ll return to my statement about car companies becoming tech companies or blurring the lines between these, because Kerssemakers notes that “the customer experience needs to be top-notch.” Customer experience sounds a lot to me like user experience. What Kerssemakers is hinting at here is that the car-user experience needs to be top-notch and that includes the initial task a driver sets upon: getting the car in the first place!
Volvo is saying that the whole shebang will be online, will be on your PC, which is mostly your smartphone nowadays. Volvo goes on in detail about the move as follows:
As part of its new commercial strategy, Volvo Cars will invest heavily in its online sales channels, radically reduce complexity in its product offer, and with transparent and set pricing models.
Combined with online sales, Volvo Cars will focus on a complete convenient customer offering, all under the Care by Volvo name.
When buying an electric Volvo online, it will come with a convenient care package that includes items such as service, warranty, roadside assistance, as well as insurance where available and home charging options.
You might remember the Care by Volvo name, which was the program Volvo introduced as an alternative for leasing or financing. It had a messy start, and for the most part, seemed gimmicky when it was introduced. But a lot has changed and Care by Volvo has circled back. Volvo’s going to need more developers soon.
It’s almost like a modern app subscription but for a whole car! Now that experience is going to be even more integrated into this app-space, as sales of Volvo EVs goes to an online-only model.