January 04, 2006
Volvo will show the C30 hatchback at Detroit to gauge public reaction. My bet is that the car will be produced, for several reasons. First, the Volvo brand. Volvo owner Ford knows it’s on a winner with this brand, which contributes smartly to its Premier Automotive Group bottom line. But why is the brand successful? Aren’t the S40 and V50 gloriﬁed Ford Focuses that are worse to drive?
Volvo is known, of course, for safety, but in recent years it has managed to combine this with sportiness, a sentiment that a lot of buyers would like to live. (How much longer is another question.) Performance plus a brand that translates neatly to CSR causes and values have an appeal to consumers, not just Connecticut couples and liberal college professors.
The other reasons are more marketing-oriented: the car will be Volvo’s price leader. The Volvo C30 will appeal to people who don’t want the wank of a BMW, and who realize that the Saab 9-2X is a phoney made in Japan. Volkswagen AG’s Audi A3 is also within the C30’s sights, but it should also take Focus and Golf buyers, too.
The interior is better than that of the S40, and let’s hope the Swedes have got the performance right. I have driven the top S40 and V50 and found them pretty poor as performance cars. The down side is that Volvo wants us to think that the C in C30 stands for coupé. Will these CSR-conscious, educated consumers, who might like a brand with the values of Hans Blix, like the fact that this vehicle is not so much a coupé, but a hatchback? Or will brand values trump that of the product itself?
Ten to one the brand values will win the day. People will buy a Volvo because it’s a Volvo. permalink
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