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Volvo eyes sales growth in 2010

Looking forward: Volvo will launch its facelifted C30 about March in a big year for the Swedish marque in Australia.

New models lift Volvo’s hopes for a sales boost in a static market

16 Oct 2009

VOLVO hopes a full year of XC60 SUV sales, a raft of facelifts and a hot-looking new S60 sedan bristling with new technology will put it ahead of the pack in 2010 after marking time for the past two years.

Volvo Car Australia managing director Alan Desselss said he agreed with industry consensus that the market would remain relatively flat next year, with perhaps a little growth.

But Mr Desselss said momentum was building for Volvo, with almost 300 forward orders going into the fourth quarter of this year and new-model activity planned for 2010.

He said Volvo dealers were excited about fourth-quarter activity and the prospects for growth next year.

“We would like to think we could buck the trend and be slightly ahead of it,” he said.

“We have a full year of XC60, where we are looking forward to some really good news.”

 center imageLeft: XC60 and facelifted C70 (bottom).

Models on the launching pad include the facelifted S80 flagship, stocks of which have already been quietly slipped into Australia ahead of a New Year publicity burst, the new-look C30 small hatch from March and the revamped C70 convertible, also on sale from about March.

The all-new mid-sized S60 – a BMW 3 Series competitor – will arrive in the final quarter, heralding the debut of new engine and safety technologies.

This year, Volvo sales in Australia are down 6.7 per cent for the first nine months, but Mr Desselss hopes the back orders and sharp pricing on run-out models such as the C70 will help it to at least break even by December 31.

Last year, Volvo sold 4469 units for the 12 months, down 7.9 per cent on 2007. However. Volvo has lifted its market share from just 0.3 per cent in 2005 to 0.5 per cent so far this year.

September Volvo sales were up 15.8 per cent on the same month of 2008, thanks mainly to its top-selling XC60 SUV which made up about one-third of Volvo sales and was the only model to crack three figures for the month, at 111 units.

Without XC60, which went on sale at the end of the first quarter, Volvo would be down more than 30 per cent this year.

Mr Desselss expects the facelift C30 hatch to give Volvo a fillip from March, although he is not expecting big sales volume from the fuel-sipping 1.6D DRIVe diesel version, which he describes as a “toe-in-the-water” exercise.

“We are honestly not banking on the volume,” he said. “It is incremental, so at this stage, whatever we get, we will be happy with.

“We are very keen to see how it is received here in Australia and then move forward from there.”

Volvo is all set to launch its S80 flagship, but slow sales of the old model have delayed the public launch.

Shipments of the new model have already arrived – and can even be ordered at Volvo dealerships if customers want the latest and greatest – but the company is focusing on running out old stocks before singing the new model’s praises.

Likewise, it is moving stocks of its out-going C70 coupe-cabriolet in readiness for a changing of the model baton about March.

In September, Volvo slashed the price of the C70 by up to $13,000 to get it moving in the wake of the pre-Frankfurt unveiling of the new, smoother 2010 version.

The price of the current top-spec turbo-charged C70 T5 was cut from $82,950 to $69,950 on September 1, without any change to specification.

The normally-aspirated C70 LE base model, which is now dubbed C70 S, dropped from $71,950 to $59,990 – a fall of almost $12,000 – while shedding leather upholstery and the top-level “Performance” audio system. Instead, it gets cloth trim and mid-range audio.

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