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The truth is, it’s been languishing in the middle for far too long, and the boss of Geely Automobiles, Li Shufu, has been wanting to take the brand upscale ever since his Chinese company acquired this most Swedish of brands.
Now it seems he will finally get his way. While Volvo bosses have resisted to go upmarket in the past, Shufu has influenced them to have a rethink, primarily after showing them sales figures in China. While models like the XC60 and the China-special long-wheelbase S80 are flourishing, sales of its smaller cars like the S40 have been very low.
This indicates that in an emerging and growing market like China, Volvo can do better as a luxury brand rather than a mid-field brand.
Shufu, who described Volvo as “a trapped tiger,” wants to compete with the likes of the A8 and 7-series with a full-size luxury car. What will the new model be called and when will it be out is not yet known, but we look forward to seeing what they will come up with next.
[Source: Automotive News]
It’s sometimes hard to believe anything you hear in the news these days. With countries still looking for bailout money (Portugal being the latest) and others struggling to climb out of recession, it would appear that austerity measures are still the norm, rather than the exception.
On the other hand, sales for some luxury goods and services, seem to be on the rise. Take the case of Jaguar Land Rover. On April 6th, the company reported that March 2011 was its best ever sales month with global growth up by some 6 percent over last year.
Much of that increase in demand came, not surprisingly, from China and India, though the UK, North America, parts of Europe and Russia also reported significant gains in vehicle sales.
Naturally Jaguar Land Rover was pleased with the results; Group Sales Operations Director Phil Popham stating that “Despite a challenging business environment, Jaguar Land Rover is flourishing on a global scale with March sales reflecting the confidence consumers have in our brands and products. We have ambitious plans to grow our business and it is clear that there is a strong appetite in the market for exciting new products, powertrains and technologies which will further improve our penetration in key markets and segments.”
Indeed. Although the global sales increase may seem by a fairly small amount; some individual markets, such as Russia for Land Rover and Germany for Jaguar; reported sales gains of almost 50 percent for the month of March. In lean economic times, that’s a sign of strong brand equity.
It’s been widely criticized by stateside Volkswagen loyalists for abandoning the concept of a premium small sedan, but the current VW Jetta, despite being bigger, less unique and considerably cheaper than its predecessor, is actually proving to be the right vehicle for VW’s strategy, according to U.S. chief Jonathan Browning.
During a recent interview at the Chicago Auto Show, Browning said that “the entry-level has really done quite well in terms of bringing extra people in.” He was, of course, referring to customers that previously, drove competitors’ vehicles and before the 2011 model, wouldn’t have viewed the Jetta as an alternative. Browning also went on to say that some 60 percent of 2011 Jetta buyers are ‘conquests’ from other brands.
Through research, VW has concluded that the reason why previous Jetta models weren’t as popular was one; retail price and two, the perception of high maintenance costs. With the current car starting at $15,995 in the U.S. and VW throwing in three-year scheduled maintenance program, the company says it has uncovered a largely new customer base for its bread and butter offering.
But although the 2011 Jetta might be the most porridge-like ever, at least as far as VW enthusiasts and loyalists are concerned, there’s still a glimmer of hope. The 2012 Jetta GLI model with tauter suspension, turbocharged 2.0-liter four, higher level of feature content and an available Fender sound system, promises to provide at least some of the thrills, traditional sporty VWs are known for when it goes on sale here as a 2012 model.
And yet VW seems firmly entrenched on increasing volume in the U.S. market; targeting total sales of 1 million units annually (including Audi) by 2018. In order to get there it will likely have to rely on affordable, dull cars, like the base Jetta and the new $20,000 Passat; due out later this year.
Let’s just hope that alongside the porridge for breakfast, we can still get some chili for lunch – the GLI is certainly a nod in the right direction.
[Source: Automotive News]
There’s been quite a bit of activity going on recently in regards to Hyundai, especially on the retail side. Where once, dealers with deep pockets shunned the Korean company’s automotive franchises, now they’re snapping them up and in ever increasing numbers.
This probably isn’t surprising. Hyundai has significantly increased its U.S. market share during the last decade and expanded it’s product portfolio to include sportier and more luxury based offerings like the Genesis and new Equus. That, combined with increasing profitability has caused many large, successful dealers to have a look at getting a franchise, even if currently, it maybe one of the smaller stores. So far this year, it’s been reported that 40 of Hyundai’s 803 U.S. stores have changed hands with big players like Auto Nation and Penske getting in on the action.
The latter has recently acquired a store in the Phoenix, AZ area, a low-volume dealership, but has big plans for it. “I think [such stores] are viewed as an attractive opportunity, whereas, four or five years ago you were unsure of the footprint the brand was going to garner,” said Penske spokesman Tony Pordon.
Alongside more prestigious product offerings and growing market share (currently 4.7 percent in the U.S.), residuals have also improved: Hyundai was ranked as the 7th overall mainstream automotive brand by ALG in it’s 2011 Residual Value Awards, which is above the industry average, something bigger dealers see as an attractive proposition and an opportunity for growth, even in stores that are currently low volume or under performing.
John Patterson, who owns several Mazda stores in the Orange County, CA area, recently took the plunge and bought his first Hyundai franchise, after originally turning one down in 2003. Since he started running Tustin Hyundai, he’s seen monthly sales quadruple. “I think Hyundai has turned a corner,” he said. “It’s a franchise on its way up.”
[Source: Automotive News]