The piece of automotive art could redefine Volvo.
In the shadows of Germany’s luxury car establishment there is a Scandinavian firm trying to make its presence known to luxury car buyers who value a prestigious badge, but, much to Japan’s delight, are willing to bend and experiment with new offerings. Ironically enough, Germany has the “fun” group of cars with wickedly powerful forced-induction engines going into cars tuned in-house and plenty of funky looking SUV and CUVs that are the result of using laboratory experiments to exploit niche auto segments.
Sitting on the sidelines, Volvo has always been the car for the practicality-loving user of the right half of the brain. It prides itself on safety and common sense, but it’s a car that architects and artistic types like to purchase as well. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as Spyker and Saab’s troubles have shown, there isn’t too much money to be made by exclusively catering to this group of buyers. If Volvo wants to truly steal luxury sales from Germany it needs to get creative. For the time being SUV sales are keeping the brand going but the automaker could use a sexy car to lure in new buyers. But that may not happen thanks to Volvo' savior and parent company, Chinese auto giant Geely.
At first, Geely wanted Volvo to compete with the Germans but those plans were quickly ditched in favor of emphasizing safety as the company always had. And therein lies the problem: The fact that Volvo doesn’t have the cajones to step up to the table where Germany and Japan are playing and up the ante. If it wants to really gobble up sales in the US then the Swedish company needs to go after buyers who swing towards the more gratifying end of the automotive spectrum. BMW and Mercedes know how to do safety well, but each one also knows that a luxury car must put a smile on owners’ faces. The entire design of the car cannot be based on safety alone. It has to have an attitude, and so does the way it drives.
Fortunately enough, Volvo has the means to meet this end and it's called the Concept Coupe. With a bit of finesse and a kiss of Polestar ingenuity, the automaker can use the car to lead the fight for the hearts and minds of luxury car buyers. On styling merit alone the Concept Coupe has what it takes to compete with the good looks of the S-Class coupe and the upcoming BMW 8 Series (as long as that car looks anything like the Gran Lusso concept). It’s handsome and muscular, and while it’s undoubtedly Volvo it is also sophisticated and alludes to a personality that cares about the driver’s experience behind the wheel as much as safety. Volvo can take two approaches for this car. First, it could go the route of the luxury coupe.
By pimping out the interior and adding an entire parts bin of Volvo tech toys, the Concept Coupe could take on the S-Class coupe. This would give Volvo the image of being a highly sophisticated car company. However, another option exists and we like it a bit more than the idea of a cultured Volvo. The second option would entail keeping the dimensions of the Concept Coupe on the small side and then handing the car to Polestar to do the rest. The resulting car would fight the BMW M4 and Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe. Volvo could also tone down the power coming from the engine and even create a four-door version. Just like Tesla's Model 3, a sedan could steal 3 Series and C-Class customers.
Sure enough, Volvo would have its work cut out for it. While it's a safe bet to stay rooted in occupant security by bringing a bullet-proof vest to a gunfight, Volvo needs to find a way to strike back against its luxury enemies. The only way to do this would be to hit BMW and Mercedes in two vulnerable spots. The first is the high-volume entry-level luxury segment that assure high sales numbers. The second is the high-profit margin exclusive luxury segment, aka the cars that define a brand. Currently the XC90 is redefining Volvo and winning over new customers, but without a sedan, Volvo won't be able to truly earn a seat at the table with the Germans.