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The past couple of years have been exciting for Volvo enthusiasts. The Polestar Racing teams in Australia and Sweden delivered headline grabbing results from drivers Thed Björk and Scott McLaughlin. The Polestar models have generated pages of positive press for the Volvo brand. Today, Autoaction is reporting that Volvo Cars’ International Marketing Director, Alain Visser recently stated, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety.” “We are therefore pulling out of STCC (Scandinavian Touring Car Championship) for example as soon as the contracts permits.” Visser stated Volvo plans to continue sponsorship the Volvo Ocean Race.
Volvo currently competes with Polestar team management in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and the Australian V8 Supercars championship. They’d even been rumored to be readying an assault on the World Touring Car Championship beginning in 2016. That appears to all be in jeopardy, though contracts will delay any immediate withdrawal. The STCC contract runs through 2015 and the V8 Supercars contract through 2016.
Whether or not these comments see a ripple effect at Volvo remains to be seen. Racing generally equates to performance and Volvo’s performance halo cars have, more often than not, seen their best offerings when Volvo is also campaigning cars on the track. It seems a logical next step to wonder what this might mean for high performance models.
Volvo has struggled with its performance marketing message for many years. Since the departure of the V70R in 2007, Volvo has been without a true halo vehicle until just this year with the launch of limited edition Polestar V60. Volvo is betting the farm on the all-new XC90 and part of that gamble, it would seem, includes exiting all motorsports contracts. What does this mean for the Polestar subbrand within the Volvo family? Polestar has infused excitement back into the brand and it would be unfortunate to stop short of delivering on the potential of having true competition for the Audi S and BMW M vehicles.
Volvo’s new global marketing strategy is another recent and bold move. The ‘Volvo Way to Market’ will in the future concentrate on three key international motor shows, Geneva in Europe, Shanghai/Beijing in China and Detroit in the United States. Volvo needs to make the right long-term strategic decisions while taking near-term tatical steps to attract buyers into showrooms. Exiting motorsports and reducing presence at industry shows will allow those budgets to funnel into more direct marketing tools and campaigns to consumers.
In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding and since then Volvo senior management set the course for Volvo’s future. If the press as a whole is reading these comments correctly, then Motorsport appears not to be part of that future, but then, perhaps more than two years are needed to build sufficient awareness. To Viser’s comment, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety” I would argue, what better place to showcase your smaller engines and safety than motorsport!
Check out the full article on Autoaction here
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