Monday, February 11, 2019

2018 Was a Fabulous Year for Volvo Car Malaysia in Terms of Sales in Malaysia as well as Exports

Volvo Car Malaysia the good people that sell Volvo cars here have reported promising numbers for the marque in 2018. The premium brand ended 2018 with a total of 1,384 units delivered to customers in Malaysia. They've also exported a record number of premium cars (the only premium brand manufacturer to use Malaysia as an export base for now) to Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam - 1,889 units! 

The Malaysian sales numbers, 1,384 units is actually a 35 per cent increase from 2017 ( up from 1,021 units) and a 48 per cent increase from 2016 (up from 934 units) According to Volvo Car Malaysia, this is a testament to the transformation plan that was put into motion since the introduction of the XC90 T8 Twin Engine SUV in late 2015. Everything started with this incredible SUV, a renaissance of sorts for the Swedish marque.

While the local sales numbers were promising for a marque on the rise again, it is the exports which actually make us here at Motoring Malaysia proud of the company. On exports, the company recorded a total of 1,889 units of V40, XC40, S60, V60, XC60, and XC90 to Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam. This was possible due to investments made to the plant to accommodate more assembly volume and new platforms such as the Volvo Car Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that is utilised by the new 60s and 90s Range, and the Modular Compact Architecture (MCA) used by the new XC40. To date, no premium car manufacturer has actually exported such a sizeable volume from Malaysia. This is indeed an achievement for Volvo Car Malaysia.

The transformation plan of the Volvo Car brand here in malaysia was led by the outgoing Managing Director of Volvo Car Malaysia, Mr Lennart Stegland (above), who is retiring from the organisation at the end of February. The plan he has put into place is a multi-pronged strategy that involves an overhaul of retail operations, customer touch points, and product offerings in Malaysia. We've reported over the past two years new products, new showrooms and new services being launched by the company because of this.

“From a consumer standpoint, the first visible change to our existing retail operations is the implementation of Volvo Retail Experience (VRE), a dealer standard that perfectly complements our new and exciting product line,” said Stegland during the recent media appreciation dinner.

The Volvo Retail Experience or VRE is a comprehensive standard that covers critical aspects of a dealership and aims to bring a more customer-focused experience based on Volvo’s Scandinavian-inspire values: from the look and feel of the showroom to the quality of service rendered to customers. In the day and age where the customer experience is the key to a brand's success, Volvo Car is ensuring that this it the path which they need to take in order to grow the brand to what it was a couple of decades ago and also to push the brand in to new, premium heights like never before.

“Enforcing the VRE standards for our existing dealerships in 2017, sets the correct level of expectations for our prospective dealer-partners in the next phase of the transformation which involves the expansion of our dealership network,” explained Stegland on the VRE Concept.

The transformation pogramme also took customer service experience into consideration and yielded positive results after extensive training and programmes were rolled-out to Service Advisors across the nation. Volvo’s Customer Experience Management (CEM) scores, gathered from a survey of service customers, had doubled from 2017.

On other important after sales programme which was launched in 2018 was the Volvo Service Agreement (VSA). This service agreement includes a comprehensive service package that covers replacement of most wear-and-tear parts (excluding tyres), gives owners the freedom of choosing between a 3 (VSA 3) or 5 (VSA 5) year plans. The VSA gives Volvo Car customers peace of mind, worthy of a premium stature the brand now offers.

“It is common practice within the industry to include the cost of services packages into the sticker price of the car. We are challenging this by being transparent about these costs and letting the customers select a plan that is more suited to their individual preferences,” added Stegland.

As for 2019 onwards, Volvo Car Malaysia plans to take its customer experience to the next level by rolling-
out a new service concept they call Volvo Personalised Service or VPS for a start. This is a new management system which will try to ensure optimum availability of parts which is called Volvo Managed Inventory (VMI). This system will be introduced sometime this year.

In terms of dealership network, Volvo Car Malaysia has grown its nationwide presence to a total of 11 dealerships which includes the recent re-introduction of the brand in Kuching after close to 10 years. Yes, Volvo is back in Sarawak after a long absence.The company is aiming to add more dealerships in 2019, especially in locations that is currently not represented by the brand. So expect more growth in Sabah and Sarawak and also the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia.

In terms of model launches, 2018 also saw the launch of several models from Volvo Car Malaysia, including the XC90 T5, S90 T5, XC60 T8 Twin Engine, XC60 T5, and the new XC40 T5 R-Design. According to Volvo Car Malaysia, the market response has been positive for most of these models with the XC60 recording the most numbers from the total units delivered and the recently launched XC40 having a large number of bookings (since it was only launched late 2018).

Volvo Car Malaysia had also introduced Volvo Car Leasing as an added avenue for customer financing. This 'in-house' financing programme is a first for Volvo Cars in Southeast Asia. Volvo Car Leasing allows customers enjoy stress-free Volvo ownership, minus the usual financial strain of a hire-purchase agreement. Leasing allows the customer to just hand over the car back to Volvo Car Malaysia after the term has ended without any worries of selling the car on their own. 

Aside from that, the company is also planning to introduce Volvo Insurance in partnership with AXA Insurance later this year.

So there are many new offerings in store by Volvo Car Malaysia ahead. They are also projecting a double-digit growth for 2019 with the new XC40 and the opening of more retail locations as the two main drivers. With a product line-up which could be the strongest Volvo Cars have in recent years, and what customer experience programmes that the company has in store, such a projection isn't out of the question.

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