The Los Angeles Auto Show is in full swing, and there's been some big news. The new Porsche 911 992 has been unveiled, Audi showcased a beautiful new electric GT Concept, and Volvo brought...well nothing. But that's actually a good thing.
Auto shows are, quite literally a time and place for automakers to show off their newest bits of metal, and for all the media, competitors, and future customers to see it first hand. It's so expected for automakers to bring new models that they'll often create concepts just to tease at the events, even if there's no actual plans to produce the vehicle. So, when an automaker doesn't bring something, it's kind of a big deal. And that's exactly what Volvo did.
In a strange yet brilliant play, Volvo brought exactly zero cars to the press days of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. They'll have cars on display there for the public portion of the show, but the now Chinese-owned company said this was "to showcase the big changes that are going on and to stay on the core message." That "core message" is to focus on tech and services that Volvo uses in their vehicles. To Volvo, bringing any cars would detract from that purpose since cars would be a major distraction and take all of the press' attention away. And that's 100% correct.
So, Volvo had the conversations they wanted to. Volvo focused on two specific areas of services and tech: infotainment, and electrification. Volvo highlighted the Volvo on Call app along with the Volvo subscription service. They also announced that they would be partnering with Google on the brand's next generation of infotainment system and that many models will be getting electrification, including the XC40 getting a plug in hybrid option.
But, you can't go to an auto show and not have a conversation about actual autos. So the good folks over at Roadshow decided to probe a bit on some future Volvo offerings in an interview. Volvo told Roadshow that they will focus on adding technology and electrification to current models and not go into hyper-niche vehicles. The CEO of Volvo, Håkan Samuelsson, said:
That's not what the customers are expecting. We will work on not widening the scope.
So this means we won't see any Crossover Coupes like the BMW X6/X4, Mercedes GLC/GLE Coupes, et al. This car-SUV category has been popping up all over the map from OEMs to fill some very unnecessary gaps. For perspective, Mercedes sells about 28,000 GLC Coupes/year in Europe, so it's not like these cars are lighting up the sales sheets. Samuelsson also said that the technology and electrification enhancements are "more important than new body shapes." And to me, that's throwing some inadvertent shade towards the aforementioned manufacturers.
To Volvo, enhancing their current product portfolio is more important than trying to sell a massive amount of vehicles in niches that don't necessarily need to exist. And considering that Volvo is having its best sales year ever, along with the fact that their subscription service can't even keep up with the demand, we think Volvo is on to something.
Quality over quantity? That's what Volvo is banking on. Only time will tell if that pays off in the long run. So far, so good.