Scandinavian trends have worked their way into our homewares and design industry, but can they take on the car market? Swedish car brand Volvo’s latest campaign is pushing to get more Kiwis buying its cars through a deal that lets them travel to its motherland for free, so long as they buy a brand-new Volvo car.
Those who buy a brand-new Volvo will be given a trip for two to Sweden, with tours of Volvo’s factory and museum on the itinerary.
The campaign is being run through eight authorised Volvo car dealerships across New Zealand, such as Archibald & Shorter’s stores and Duncan & Ebett.
It will last for 12 weeks, kicking off this Sunday.
Volvo’s New Zealand national manager Coby Duggan says the campaign will cost the company $1 million.
The $1 million investment is significant, given Volvo has relatively low sales in New Zealand market.
According to the Motor Industry Association’s new vehicle registration figures, 243 were sold in 2015.
In comparison to other European brands, with 880 Mercedes-Benz, 1273 Volkswagen and 664 Fiat registrations recorded last year, there’s a bit of wriggle room – and its senior vice president seems keen to take a bigger slice of the New Zealand pie.
When he visited Auckland last year to launch a new showroom, Alain Visser said the brand has plans to grow its worldwide sales from half a million cars to 800,000, which means it has to grow its market share everywhere.
“Even though New Zealand is a small market, we currently sell between three and four hundred cars, and we believe that in New Zealand we should be able to sell 1000 cars in the foreseeable future,” he said.
Interestingly, he noted that the increasing trend of shoppers browsing and buying online has also spread to the vehicle industry.
Visser said 80 to 85 percent of its customers shop online, which he said is “moving from tyre kicking to tyre clicking”.
In a 2014 campaign, Volvo sold 1,927 limited editions of its XC90 car online in under 48 hours, before customers had even seen the car in person.
The virtual launch allowed people to peruse a digital showroom, explore the car and buy it via the company’s website and even on Facebook (if your pockets are deep enough to casually buy a brand-new car on social media, that is) before it hit bricks-and-mortar stores.
One of Volvo’s major selling points is the safety of its cars, with its hip, Swedish automotive engineers working six-hour days in an Ikea-furnished lab* to come up with features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Driver Alert Control and smart headlights.
In Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo will soon have 100 members of the public testing its self-driving cars by 2017.
The study is being done in partnership with the Swedish Government to monitor the benefits to society of autonomous driving, such as road safety.
Volvo also recently revealed its lofty goal to have ‘death-proof’ cars on the road by 2020.
Lex Kerrssemakers, CEO of Volvo in North America, has said claims by Swedish engineers that no one in their cars would not be killed or seriously injured by 2020 was “pretty genuine”.
In the US, no one has died in the brand’s XC90 car model in the last four years.
The car has a Pilot Assist feature that brakes and accelerates to match traffic when travelling up to 48km per hour, as well as following the line of the car in front of it.
However, Volvo has admitted they can’t save drivers who want to hurt themselves or are “really, really stupid”.
Given that there’s been 329 road fatalities on the road in the past year, perhaps New Zealand is a market Volvo should be avoiding.
*This may or may not be a stereotype of what Swedish people are like.