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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been doing a little research here....and I feel a bit confused. I am confused about the kind of buyer a Volvo buyer is.

I feel that the kind of buyer a Volvo buyer is, is someone who is middle class. It's odd, because a Volvo is someone who is just a bit beyond the middle class. Volvos are too nice. Most of the Volvo lineup starts at like $35000....which is right in the middle between economy and luxury. What kind of middle class person buys a Volvo? There are hardly any markets around the world that suggests a middle class car is as nice of a car as a Volvo.

Yet, because they are not as nice as a Mercedes, they are snubbed by all of the luxury buyers, autoblogs, everybody. They are never up to par with the luxury segments in general.

At the same time, they are too expensive for people not in the luxury market.

Since people, beyond the few die-hard fans, purchase cars based on the word on the street or the competition, I ask myself...what is Volvo doing?????


I have to say....even though this is just a tough year, and I love Volvo to pieces, but I wish I could call out to Volvo and say, get organized a bit. The S80, C30, XC70 XC90 these products are starting to feel old, but what's worse is that their prices and options don't match the segment.


Good things are coming for Volvo....VEA/SPA/hybrids/etc but the process is killing me.
 

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As a new (1 week) C30 owner I can tell you I chose Volvo because I wanted something European this time around; but also purchase something with a good chance of reliability. My previous vehicle was a '03 Honda Element w/ 140k miles on it that was absolutely flawless reliability wise.

The only competition was VW (terrible reliability, bad dealers in my area) and Mini (great dealers but the reliability scares me worse than VW!)
 

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That's a really good question. I can't help but think that rather than go after Audi or VW, they need to have the same appeal as Subaru. I know it's a bit daft, but both companies seem to share a lot of the same features. Safety, AWD, reliability. If you actually go to the comparison chart on the Subaru website, a lot of the standard features on the WRX and the C30 R are pretty much the same. Now I'm not saying they're the same exact car, but it's comparable. And the price difference was only about $2,000. I know there's this drive (no pun intended) to push Volvo into luxury territory, but you have to play to your strengths. And I don't think "luxury" is one of their strengths.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Safety, AWD, reliability. If you actually go to the comparison chart on the Subaru website, a lot of the standard features on the WRX and the C30 R are pretty much the same.
That is one car, and would Volvo really waste money, after all they have done for the bigger cars, to regress to a Subaru class? What kind of market share does Subaru take?

Volvo is too late in going cheaper ( non-luxury)...besides, Volvos were never cheap cars...
 

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IMO, Volvo is fine with who they are primarily competing with, Audi, BMW, etc. They just need to do a better job. In the late 90s in the US, Volvo sold almost 1 for 1 with bmw and they outsold Audi. Were Volvo's more luxurious back then? Not IMO. It's just that back then, there just were not that many other things to look for in a car, BUT, the Volvo's size was bigger and they were much more practical cars, and back then, they were definitely way above the others in terms of safety. Radio, (infotainment?) , LOL, back then it was din size radios that could be easily replaced. Nobody bought a car back then caring about the stereo. You could add a cd changer to most cars buying an off the shelf changer and some generic adapter!!! No fiber optics, most, etc. Cars were much simpler in those days, and Volvo did just fine with "simple". Well, almost. I still remember driving our brand new V70 home in the rain from the dealership and cursing at Volvo after discovering that Volvos were probably the only cars that didn't come with adjustable interval wipers.

Now fast forward, and sure, Volvo is now basically in last place. Does that mean that Volvo should change who they compete with? Nonsense. If they were smart, they'd try to figure out where they are going wrong. And IMO, it's pretty simple, it's the cars themselves. They are great cars, the best they've ever made, just not above anything else the competition offers. In those cases where the volvo's are cheaper than their competitors, more people than not are still willing to pay EXTRA money to get that competing car because it has something they want that Volvo doesn't offer. Up to the late 90s, that wasn't the case, Volvo did offer something they didn't, safety, and practicality, IMO, the two biggest strengths Volvo had within it's segments. The competition has extremely narrowed the gap on safety, and Volvo, having shot themselves in the foot by moving to smaller cars, has on it's own destroyed the praticality aspect of Volvos. So what's left? Nothing....

And now, Volvo is getting squeezed hard from both sides. The lower tier brands have improved WAY MORE than Volvo has, and now potential Volvo buyers can look to either side for competing models.

If you look to every competing car to a volvo, you will find across the various competing models, features here and there that Volvo doesn't offer. But excluding safety, I can't think of one single feature that Volvo's have that at least some of the competition doesn't also have. In effect, Volvo cars represent the lowest common denominator of features. And now, space too.... I don't know if we should count "FWD" as a standout feature? And worse, for a lot of features that Volvo does offer that Volvo thinks are on par with the competition, they're really not. If we were to rank features from 0 to 10, stereo, navigation, ac, wipers, etc, Volvo doesn't get a 10 in any single category, but competing models, in various categories, do get higher scores. So, basically, the competition offers a feature, Volvo does just enough work to say they also offer that feature, but in reality, their implementation of that feature isn't really that great. This is what I call the volvo "quirky" factor. This is the stuff you don't detect or realize when you are test driving a volvo. This is the stuff that Volvo owners discover after they've signed on the dotted line. Volvo needs to stop building "quirky" cars. They need to FULLY implement features and do those features right.

And worse, just like republicans that want to double down on trickle down, Volvo wants to double down on safety, but nothing I see in the market place indicates at all that safety sells anymore. I'm not saying that Volvo should give up safety, they shouldn't, but I do think that Volvo needs to pull their head out of their a$$, look at competing cars, think like a buyer, and start offering buyers what they want.

So who is Volvo's competition?

IMO, Volvo's primary competition is Acura, Infiniti, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. And in recent years, even now, Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Subarua, and Honda. Volvo has fallen so far behind, that IMO, they really are competing with everybody...
 

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Volvo is similar to Buick. Living in that limited space between mass market and luxury. Buick still hasn't quite figured it out, and Acura finally did. To compete with BMW, MB, Cadillac, Lexus, etc... you need proper RWD platforms.
 

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I drive Volvo wagons because I NEED a mid size wagon and V70s are the best bang for the buck in the segment, IMHO.
 

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Fascinating discussion happening today on The Truth About Cars website about Volvo. It was prompted by a WSJ/Marke****ch article advocating that Volvo throw in the towel on North America, given its sales levels vis a vis MB, BMW, Audi, etc. I'm a big Volvo fan and love my 2010 V70, but am frustrated by the lack of advertising and second class status USA seems to warrant from Volvo lately.

Here's the link and discussion. There are plenty of Volvo fans on that site too: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/wsj-volvo-might-as-well-back-out-of-the-united-states/
 

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Volvo is similar to Buick. Living in that limited space between mass market and luxury. Buick still hasn't quite figured it out, and Acura finally did. To compete with BMW, MB, Cadillac, Lexus, etc... you need proper RWD platforms.
If your in the NE.. Most of the cars that BMW, MB will sell are AWD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Fascinating discussion happening today on The Truth About Cars website about Volvo. It was prompted by a WSJ/Marke****ch article advocating that Volvo throw in the towel on North America, given its sales levels vis a vis MB, BMW, Audi, etc. I'm a big Volvo fan and love my 2010 V70, but am frustrated by the lack of advertising and second class status USA seems to warrant from Volvo lately.

Here's the link and discussion. There are plenty of Volvo fans on that site too: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/wsj-volvo-might-as-well-back-out-of-the-united-states/
Holy ****, scary article! The money thing to me doesn't make sense.... Volvo, with the current offerings in the U.S. it does not look good for them, but geely is giving them so much money to build factories.....

I want to make the point that it cost little money to develop a plan. Volvo needs to make a good plan for the long term
 

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Volvo is similar to Buick. Living in that limited space between mass market and luxury. Buick still hasn't quite figured it out, and Acura finally did. To compete with BMW, MB, Cadillac, Lexus, etc... you need proper RWD platforms.
Funny, but I went with the Volvo, in part, because it was FWD. I've driven both FWD and RWD and prefer FWD (even over AWD for my area).
 

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IMO, that market watch article is worthless, at least regarding Volvo.
Suzuki and Mitsubishi I could see leaving the market (though the SX4 was always a fun, and weird little alternative) since they have worse sales than Volvo and also suffer from worse dealer networks and worse still is that they aren't making anywhere near the profit levels that Volvo makes on each of its cars. I would think that Volvo throwing out the towel on its largest market (and continuously fastest growing) would be utterly stupid (which is why the author is also utterly stupid) because the fact of the matter is that Volvo clearly has the ability to dominate a particular category (remember what the XC90 did and what the XC60/S60 are doing now) even with competitors that have vastly larger spending budgets. Now with Volvo being owned by Geely who is allowing Volvo to expand its spending budget and therefor allow for Volvo to update its cars faster than ever before I see Volvo growing significantly. Perhaps not to the 800,000 units per year that are expected but I could easily see them selling 600,000K units per year within a short amount of time after the new XC90 hits and the S60/XC60/S80/XC70 get major refreshes. Volvo is in its current state because it hasn't really had the money to make any major advancements in its hardware. All the engines were conceived in the mid 1990's and most of Volvo's platforms were designed in the early 2000s. And even then certain models sell decently and pull their own weight even though they're nearly a decade old (like the C70/XC90). Remember how Stephan Jacoby stated that Volvo will be launching 10 new products in the 2013 MY so we should expect bigger gains in market share.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Suzuki and Mitsubishi I could see leaving the market (though the SX4 was always a fun, and weird little alternative) since they have worse sales than Volvo and also suffer from worse dealer networks and worse still is that they aren't making anywhere near the profit levels that Volvo makes on each of its cars. I would think that Volvo throwing out the towel on its largest market (and continuously fastest growing) would be utterly stupid (which is why the author is also utterly stupid) because the fact of the matter is that Volvo clearly has the ability to dominate a particular category (remember what the XC90 did and what the XC60/S60 are doing now) even with competitors that have vastly larger spending budgets. Now with Volvo being owned by Geely who is allowing Volvo to expand its spending budget and therefor allow for Volvo to update its cars faster than ever before I see Volvo growing significantly. Perhaps not to the 800,000 units per year that are expected but I could easily see them selling 600,000K units per year within a short amount of time after the new XC90 hits and the S60/XC60/S80/XC70 get major refreshes. Volvo is in its current state because it hasn't really had the money to make any major advancements in its hardware. All the engines were conceived in the mid 1990's and most of Volvo's platforms were designed in the early 2000s. And even then certain models sell decently and pull their own weight even though they're nearly a decade old (like the C70/XC90). Remember how Stephan Jacoby stated that Volvo will be launching 10 new products in the 2013 MY so we should expect bigger gains in market share.
your analysis is the flip side to that article. I am glad that you can recognize these realistic outcomes. I think my point is still valid when I say that Volvo s still not organized. Their direction of the company is not very clear when it comes to their competition. I am a marketing student who loves volvo, but since the S60 came out, I am feeling a bit confused. Too many rumors and not enough press. Too much uncertainty about the kind of products they will be making in the future. Is this a realistic complaint??
 

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Volvo is similar to Buick. Living in that limited space between mass market and luxury. Buick still hasn't quite figured it out, and Acura finally did. To compete with BMW, MB, Cadillac, Lexus, etc... you need proper RWD platforms.
Audi has proven that is not the case since their AWD cars are built on top of FWD platforms. Obviously Audi has many other things going for them but it's not impossible to compete without RWD.
 

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Funny, but I went with the Volvo, in part, because it was FWD. I've driven both FWD and RWD and prefer FWD (even over AWD for my area).
I went from an RWD/AWD car (Lexus IS250) to a FWD/AWD s60. Not a big deal IMHO. But in the luxury performance sedan class, you need RWD for bragging rights. I come back to Buick and Acura, who are saddled with the same issue, trying to sell near luxury goods against the RWD big guys. Acura figured it out, and has decided not to move upmarket anymore, and is looking more at teh value/lux segment with cars like the ILX. Buick has been forced in to that space by GM to defend Caddilac's position. This is the space where Ford killed Mercury.

Volvo needs more products like teh s60, a combination of luxury, performance and style, at relative bargain when compared top the Germans and Lexus.
 

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I feel that Volvo is filling a niche in the market. They are slightly more luxurious than a VW or a Subaru without being as expensive as a Mercedes or an Audi. As far as them needing to just "pull out of the american market" I think that article is dead wrong.
 

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your analysis is the flip side to that article. I am glad that you can recognize these realistic outcomes. I think my point is still valid when I say that Volvo s still not organized. Their direction of the company is not very clear when it comes to their competition. I am a marketing student who loves volvo, but since the S60 came out, I am feeling a bit confused. Too many rumors and not enough press. Too much uncertainty about the kind of products they will be making in the future. Is this a realistic complaint??
I guess... Volvo has had a history of having a sort of "schizophrenia" due to their unfortunate tendency to produce adverts (or none at all...) that conflict with one another. I usually try to steer away from all the pessimism but it's undeniably true that Volvo does not seem organised, or at least know where they're going.
 

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Volvo doesn't need to completely pull out of the US market, but they do need to overhaul their strategy. It's obvious that the profit margins aren't high enough on US sales to cover the cost of building a complete range of high-spec cars in Europe and importing them. I had a VW Passat as a rental car earlier this week, and think the only way Volvo is going to survive here is to follow VW's lead. (And gee, look who's at the helm, assuming his health improves enough to return to work.)

It kills me to say this as an enthusiast, but Volvo is going to have to build a shiny new North American factory, milk the tax incentives, strictly control costs, and produce "dumbed down" Americanized models for sale on these shores. Not as dumbed down as VW with the old-tech 2.slow engine and drum brakes on Jettas, but not to the same spec as the cars that sell for 2x to 3x as much elsewhere around the globe.

The US-spec Jettas and Passats are flying off the lots, and the Passat I drove earlier in the week was actually not a bad car. I expected the "dumbing down" to have turned it into a flimsy tin can driving experience, but the steering and suspension are still European tight, and the 5-cylinder engine was nowhere near as much of a dog as its specs would suggest. I continue to be amazed at how decent cars in the $20k - $25k segment have become lately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I think brand perception wins over 'bang for your buck' once the brand is a certain price. Too many Volvos compete with the Audis and BMWs to, all of the sudden, create dumbed down cars, just to generate sales figures. What happens after they sell a few of those? What direction do they take then?

It is not a good idea to flip flop on multiple segments, since the brand is so small. VW can go a little premium because they have a tremendous target market for their usual passat/jetta people. I think, in general, it's easier for a car brand to go up market, than going down market. Has a brand ever done that before? YES MERCURY and LINCOLN ...perfect examples...
 
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