Buyers of German luxury cars should take another look at Volvo's latest. That's the message behind the sentiments of Swedish marque's product and vehicle line boss, Lex Kerssemakers.
Answering questions regarding the carmaker's lack of progress against the key German luxury brands Down Under, Kerssemakers said he was confident in the quality of his company's products, but conceded the brand needs to attract more potential customers Down Under.
"It’s a brand issue -- it has nothing to do with cars anymore," Kerssemakers told motoring.com.au. "The S60, V60, are absolutely -- from a pure engineering perspective -- totally on par with BMW... It’s about consistency and I can’t talk about the past what went right or wrong. [But] we have a history with certain cars... [And] the Australian customers put us in a certain corner. We’re trying to get out of it," he said.
Kerssemaker says Volvo needs to be "consistent" with its branding but also needs to ensure it is talking to the right "audience".
"What we’re trying to do now with S60, especially S60, is to build cars which are competitive and step by step, with the right [marketing and other] campaigns, try to get it to [the same level as the German marques]. But it’s more [focussed now] on the 'how do we position the brand in Australia versus the product?'"
The new V40 hatch will be a game changer for the brand – in all aspects – he asserts. But Kerssemakers also concedes the company must price the car competitively.
"When I ran Overseas [Volvo's overseas sales division, which includes Australia], the last thing I wanted is being priced higher than the Germans... So we want to be on par or slightly, slightly below, definitely not above." He says he is realistic, however. Volvo's growth will involve "a lot of conquest from other brands" including volume brands.
"I don’t think that the BMW customer -- unless he’s totally mistreated -- will quickly move to a Volvo. And we don’t aim for that. But an Audi customer or a Lexus customer or another 'volume' brand, absolutely," Kerssemakers opined.
"It’s a journey and in some countries it’s much easier... In many Asian countries we are positioned extremely well and it’s a no-brainer. But again, [in] Australia, we’re not...
"We need to work very hard on our marketing campaigns, and with the dealers, to make them [customers] aware that this offer is equal to our major German competitors," he stated.