25 Feb 2019 | 09.17 am
Interview: David Thomas, Volvo Cars Ireland
Plug-in XC40 hybrid is on the way
25 Feb 2019 | 09.17 am
Volvo’s XC40 is the car that most impressed Irish motoring journalists in 2018. David Thomas, Managing Director of Volvo Cars Ireland, says a plug-in version arrives in 2019, along with the all-new S60 saloon
Volvo’s market share held steady through 2018. What factors lie behind this?
In 2018 we introduced two new models: our compact SUV XC40, the Irish Car of the Year, and the V60, our mid-size estate car. In addition to these new models we’ve had a full year of XC60, our mid-size SUV, and continued success with the rest of our very new range, particularly XC90.
The XC40’s recent entry into the competitive compact SUV market has been a huge success. Since launching in late 2017, it has attained an impressive list of awards including European Car of the Year. The XC40 sets a new standard in its segment and encapsulates everything the Volvo brand strives to deliver.
Volvo Cars set a new global sales record in 2018, breaking the 600,000 sales milestone for the first time since the company was founded in 1927. The company’s sales rose 12.4% to 642,250 cars in 2018 compared with 571,580 cars in 2017.
What was Volvo’s bestselling model in 2018?
Launched last year, all-new XC60 features the same outstanding qualities of the XC90 in a mid-size package and has built on the success of the previous model, with class-leading ride, handling and performance. The safety features, including collision avoidance and mitigation as well as Pilot Assist, our semi-autonomous driving system, have brought us back to the top of this fast growing but competitive segment.
What model is Volvo’s best family buy?
That depends on the size of the family, but as the leader in the large SUV segment our XC90 gives you a seven-seat premium SUV with state of the art driver control systems and the safety features so critical for a family car.
What executive model do you recommend?
S90 is our large premium saloon and shares the comfort, technology and safety from our range of SUVs in a more traditional yet cost effective package.
What new models are on the way from Volvo this year?
Our all-new S60 mid-size saloon introduces our latest technology into a segment where we had a lot of success with the previous model. Also arriving is XC40 as a plug-in hybrid, and the introduction of mild hybrid engines in certain models.
How are sales going at the start of 2019?
In January there was an increase in sales of 13% year-on-year and a growth of 4% market share in the premium segment – the brand’s highest market share position in the past decade. Volvo’s range of SUVs were the bestselling premium SUVs in the month of January. The XC60 was the bestselling SUV in the premium segment, followed closely by its big brother, the XC90.
How strong is demand for Volvo electric vehicles?
We’ve seen huge growth in demand for our plug-in hybrid variants of both XC60 and XC90. This is now over 30% of our volume and even higher in certain cities. We find customers want to move to EVs but a pure electric vehicle does not meet their needs today. Our range of plug-in hybrids gives them the best of both worlds.
What’s your view on car buyer sentiment heading into 2019?
Naturally, consumer confidence is affecetd by the continuing uncertainty over Brexit, but the strength of our product range and launch of new models will help us counteract this. There is an increasing interest in environmental vehicles, which is met by our plug-in hybrid cars.